Hazel Beverly: 3-23-21 Through 8-25-11

At the time you’re seeing this I am in Rochester NY as the funeral is about to start for my grandmother, Hazel Beverly, who passed away last Thursday at age 90 in her sleep. I thought it was important enough to take a break to talk about her on this day.

I hate to say this, but my grandmother’s side of the family is steeped in mystery; at least for me. Just last Thursday, after she passed away, did I learn that I have Cherokee Indian blood; of all things. I knew I had native American blood in me from my grandfather’s side, but no one knew which tribe he was from. The next day I learned that my grandmother’s only surviving sibling, who we were lucky enough to track down from the airport an hour before he was supposed to be going home, had a son along with the two daughters I knew about already. And it’s not that he’s ashamed of his son; it’s just that, in general, they all come from a generation where no one talks about anything without some reason for it to come up.

That’s how it was with my grandmother, who I always felt had Dean Martin cool about her. She was unflappable, even though a life that had its ups and downs, like most lives. She just went with whatever came up, and only having one daughter and one grandson to keep up with, felt life was pretty good.

She was proud when I graduated college, seeing as how she left school in the 8th grade. She was proud to know I played piano and sang because the did the same. She thought I was the funniest person she’d ever met; I loved to try to make her laugh. She was the one who introduced me to beets, red hot dogs, biscuits and syrup, grits, green pea soup with ham sandwiches and peanut brittle.

One of those strange memories is that she used to take me to church with her when I was 10 years old, living in Kansas City. She was devout but I think she took me for the entertainment value and to get me out of the house. It was my introduction to and probably my only experience with black churches and pretty much church in general. It was interesting because people would scream out, sing out, jump up and start dancing at almost any time, and the choir music… well, if you’re not used to traditional black church beats, which are based on 16th notes rather than quarter notes when you want to get people juiced up, still resonate in my mind more than 40 years later; I never learned how to play any of this type of music unfortunately.

But my grandmother didn’t do any of that. She wore the same Sunday dress every week she went, the same hat, and she had this quiet dignity that kept her from acting out. When I questioned her about it, as we were surrounded with all these other people that were, well, really into it, she just said “Every person gets out of it what they feel they need to get into their lives”. That was it; in her mind, nothing else needed to be said.

And that’s really one of those lessons that, from time to time, I hope I learned from her. She was pretty quiet; she only spoke when she felt something needed to be said, or when I’d ask her questions. She was sharp until the last 5 years of her life, when we’d talk about the weather for 30 minutes at a time because she couldn’t remember what I’d just said to her. But her long term memory was always there until the last few months, and she told me a few things here and there that I’ll never be allowed to disclose, but helped flesh out the family history just a little bit more.

I thank you Miss Hazel, my grandmother, for my mother, for allowing us to have a place to live while Dad was in Vietnam, for giving us a great laugh and story when you got “bus left”, for my Kansas City Chiefs jacket, for my crocheted bowling ball and pin, and for just being you, steady and cool. I’ll miss you for the rest of my life.
 

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34 comments on “Hazel Beverly: 3-23-21 Through 8-25-11

  • This is a beautiful tribute Mitch!

    I’m awfully sorry to hear of your loss Mitch!

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Respectfully,
    Paul Castain

  • Rachel Lavern says:

    Mitch, I am sorry for your loss. Grandmothers can be extra special, aren’t they? I agree with Paul–your tribute to her is lovely.

    I pray that your memories of your grandmother help to comfort you.

  • I also agree – beautiful tribute. Your grandmother had a beautiful smile, too! I hope today has been full of beautiful memories as you and your family have been honoring your grandmother. Best, Julie

  • This is a personal letter to you from me that, we do lose people we lost most and you have to keep on keeping and I wish her good rest in the bosom of the almighty God. Have a nice day Mitch.

  • Not only a beautiful tribute, Mitch, but your grandmother was a beautiful woman. Lovely, lovely smile. I’m sure you’re missing her – take your time, take it slowly.

  • That is a great tribute Mitch. I can see from her photograph, where you get the sparkle in your eyes. She has left behind you. From wherever she is now, she sends you hugs, have no doubts about that.

  • Mitch,
    I agree with Paul and Val—an absolutely beautiful tribute! And I can definitely see the resemblance. Like your grandmother’s family, mine was also cloaked in SECRET. I just learned last year that my “Big Mama” (whose been dead since 1983) had two children out of wedlock and my dad was one of them. I also learned that the man I thought was my grandfather was a part of the Tuskeegee experiment that killed a number of black men in Alabama by injecting them with syphyllis.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Thanks Val. How strange family can be. I learned a few more things today that aren’t quite as pleasant as other stuff, but luckily none of it about my grandmother. Family; what a concept. 🙂

  • Hi Mitch,

    This is a beautiful remembrance and tribute to your grandmother. I pride myself on being hard, but while reading your post, my eyes got teary. 🙂

    I enjoyed reading about your grandmother. Grandmothers are so special.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Thanks Evelyn. Yes, grandmothers are special people indeed; actually, grandparents can be pretty special across the board. I’m glad to have had her in my life.

  • What’s clear from your post, Mitch, is that for every incident and event you briefly mentioned, there must have been a dozen more. It sounds as though Miss Hazel lived a full life, and filled the lives of the people she loved. Thank you for sharing her with us.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Charles, she did live kind of an interesting life, but I’d have to say it wasn’t always great. But she just dealt with things and moved on; that’s the kind of cool you don’t often see in people in today’s world, but the greatest generation… those folks were something else. Thanks for your words.

  • Andrew Walker says:

    Mitch, I’m so sorry for your loss. You see… I lost my grandparents since I was still a little boy. But the one that I’ve missed the most, still, my granny. I lost her when I was about 15-16 years old, so I understood it well, that she won’t be back anymore.

  • Mitch, this is a wonderful tribute. Thank you for sharing a bit of your personal life with us all – you’ve given us something special, a piece of your grandmother that connects the part that makes you you.

    Mitch

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Thanks Mitch. Since you like stories you should click on the link for my business blog and read what I wrote about her there.

  • So sorry to hear that your grandmother passed away Mitch. I’m always at a loss for what to say in these situations.

    Still, she will always live in the memories of those she left behind and now you’ve added a tribute that will live on the net as well.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Thanks Sire; I actually wrote two. It’s funny because if it weren’t for me she’d have been one of those few people without any footprints on the internet. I wonder if she’d appreciate the irony; then again, she never really knew what computers were anyway.

      • I’m sure she would Mitch, and that is a lovely photo too.

        So, you’re part Cherokee, does that mean you’re going to try your hand at archery? 😉

      • Mitch Mitchell says:

        Nah; I already knew I had Indian blood in me from my mother’s father’s side, but we have no idea which tribe she was from. I’d liked to have known that bit of information, but not enough to do a family tree history.

  • Cristian Balau says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. It hurts when they go away, I recently lost a grandfather myself, from my father’s side. We never been close, I hardly knew the man. Still hurts though…

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Thanks Cristian; means a lot. I was that way with my grandfather on my mother’s side; didn’t see him often, but missed him when he was gone.

  • I agree Mitch, what a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. I have no doubt she’s extremely proud of you. Sounds like she loved you very much. I know that life won’t be the same without her but her memory will love on forever.

    My thoughts and prayer are with you as you enter into a new month without her.

    Adrienne

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Thanks Adrienne. We’re doing well. Mom still blames herself for some of it but I’ve been there as well in my past so I know she’ll overcome it. My grandmother will be missed for sure.

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