A Women's History Month Tribute!
I figured with the theme of this month it is all too fitting for me to dedicate this blog to my grandmother. Since her passing I have been working different outlets to express the many feelings I have, and fill the void that has been left. So this blog is one of them. I want to share why I am now striving to be my grandmother's wildest dreams.
Alanda was born October 22, 1947 to Kenneth and Arlene Lloyd in Newark, NJ. She attended Saint Patrick in Newark, NJ and Battion High School in Elizabeth, NJ where she majored in Fashion. As a fashion student she designed, sewed, and modeled her own fashion designs. She won various awards and was invited to Washington DC to model her designs for the President. Alanda was invited to study fashion in France but decided to marry her high school sweetheart Paul Eleazer instead.
Growing up in the 60's, she attended many Civil Rights marches for equality along with Martin Luther King, Jr. She often talked about being sprayed with water hoses during the Washington DC marches....you can read her full obituary here.
It is crazy to me that when I google 'Alanda Dobie' I only get her Obit. and not who she was in life. She was more than what is written. So I would like to share who Grandma Alanda was to me. I lived with my grandmother most of my childhood. She was the first woman to show me how to dust an entire house, work a sewing machine, and gave me my first alcoholic drink - Baileys. In my defense, I thought it was chocolate milk. So she taught me right then "be careful what you ask for". However, it might have back fired because when I became of age some of her special cabinet inventory started coming up missing. Any way.....I could always go to grandma to tell her my wildest experiences. Love, parties, and getting into trouble. She never judged. Questioned...of course. Gave her opinions...always. But never passed judgement on who I was and who I was becoming. I like to believe she trusted that the character and values she instilled in me were rooted deep. That like her, stubborn in her ways, I too would not let life break me; but mold me into the greatness I am destined for.
She could always pull off a bold red lipstick. And those strings of pearls, I will never forget.
Grandma showed up at every dance recital, graduation, and random award I got. Even in the days where she was beating cancer and overcoming a stroke, she always showed up. In her loud colored suites, church heels (always in those JcPenny's stockings), curled out wig, red lipstick and pearls. She could always pull off a bold red lipstick. And those strings of pearls, I will never forget. I would always go into her room when she was getting ready and ask to wear them, temporarily of course. Watching her husband (late James Dobie) clip them around her neck, and the smile she gave him and herself in their large mirror - that was love and beauty for me. My grandma was a beautiful black woman, and she knew it. No one could tell her different. She was more than a wife, mother, grandmother, and church leader. She was business savvy, a fashionista, an activist, and a caring friend. Although my childhood memories are a bit broken, the emotions I had then are still strong. The lessons and values she represented, has helped me be the woman I am today. And that (amongst other things) is what I will cherish the most. Google won't tell you that!
"make sure you always have clean panties because you don't want the ambulance to catch you in dirty ones"
My grandmother was a phenomenal woman. She showed me grace in the midst of adversity, and strategy among chaos. I remember seeing her presence of class and brilliance exude from wherever she was. Her sense of fashion could not be matched. Her business acumen was beyond her years. My grandma taught me never to walk outside unkept. I remember her words "make sure you always have clean panties because you don't want the ambulance to catch you in dirty ones". Now, at first I was like dang, why does she always think I was going to end up at the hospital. But I still made sure I had clean draws every day (and twice on Sundays). My grandmother was a dedicated wife and family woman. I didn't see at the time, but now I realized she was the strength that held the family in order. Making sure everyone was accounted for and taken care of - even when it may burden her. Grandma showed me how to be a lady; not just in beauty and class, but also in intelligence and excellence. And her smile. People think my smile lights up a room, well she is where I got it from.
These are the qualities I hope to continue in myself and my daughters: strength, courage, wisdom, class, and joy. These will be my grandmother's legacies through me.
Grandma and I talked a lot while I was growing up, but I can not recall her ever speaking about her dreams. Which makes me hope that she was living in them. Whether that be her dream marriage, dream career, and dream adventures. I pray that she fulfilled it all. And likewise I pray I do the same. What I do remember is her importance on my education and hygiene. And yes, it sounds funny, but I would like to think that she wanted to make sure I was pretty and prepared for life - if I can say that. She welcomed my random ideologies of how the world works and challenged me to dig deeper into educating myself. School was not an option - and neither was keeping myself and my space clean. "You are not going outside looking like that?" With her eyes staring me up and down. Or when I would share stories of racially charged altercations when I went away to school and she question "did you speak up and tell someone?", not realizing her civil rights background, but knowing she taught me to never refrained from speaking out on what is right. I hope I live out my life aligned with who she wanted me to be. That I practice her discernment of speaking on what is right, and being silent to "not entertain foolishness". To always show up in this world with love and persistence for change.
I am Alanda Dobie's wildest dreams, and I will make sure to bring her dreams to reality.