I Held Her Ashes In My Hands … Close To My Heart … On 9/11
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
My mother as a younger girl … her eyes were always so beautiful. She was just as beautiful.
My mother as a young girl … those beautiful eyes. Her eyes were always made up beautifully.
She got up faithfully as a young, older woman every morning at 4:00 am … to put her makeup on.
My mother as a young girl … when I first became aware of my mother as a little girl …. she had long, flowing, curly hair. I’ve always loved long, curly hair.
My beautiful mother is on left in black outfit … with her cousin, Carol… so young, vibrant
My mother as a young adult woman … she was so beautiful. She was standing beside her own mother, my Grandma Alma.
My beautiful mother, Daisy Earlene Strother … and my little brother Rick-Rick in Camp Lejune on the Marine base.
Tommy was talking on his cellphone … I could hear him talking to his soon to be ex-wife. I could sense it wasn’t a ‘bad’ phone call.
Skip was dressing after taking his shower. I was … I don’t know what I was doing. I do vaguely recall standing in the middle of the floor … not seeing the tv in front of me.
My eyes were full of tears … it was like trying to see out of a foggy window … things were distorted. It didn’t matter, I didn’t see what was in front of me … I didn’t know to. I was in shock … my mind was seeing, hearing … inside me.
My mother was dead … my mama was dead. Something wasn’t right … too soon to know … what. My mind was seeing reactions, watching different ones that … evening she … died.
I was trying to ‘see’ regardless of the shock I was in … have you ever tried to do that? It’s like trying not to forget something … you are already … forgetting.
Shock … I have been in the state of shock so many times, you’d think I’d be used to it.
No … the shock of new things, more family members, friends dying … events taking place … many ‘bad’ things … create mind-numbing shock … it never affects one the same way. I can tell you this … firsthand.
I’ve experienced shock more times in my life than … I can count. I never chose to … I never wanted to … if I’d had my choice, I’d been more like you … only have two or three ‘bad’ things happen in my life, and live life out … without anything else happening.
I’ve lived several lifetimes … of shocks, ‘bad’ things happening. I am stronger for it … I know you probably think that. Well, I am … and I am not. When it’s my life … it’s too close to home. I’m not strong at all.
Suppose you saw a horrible wreck in front of you … you run to see if you can help someone … only to discover … that … someone … is your daughter … your son … laying there … hurt badly, broken … bleeding; or worse … dead.
Shock takes over … these are the type shocks I have suffered through time … I just told you that so, you could ‘imagine’ the kind of shocks I have suffered through time. That means bad things have happened in my life … some, I can tell you about; some … I won’t tell you about.
Normally, people live out their lives with just a few shocks. They are the fortunate ones … life’s been good to them. Life has been good to me, also … and no matter how bad … I still believe good things come from … bad things. I believe, I believe …
I don’t question ‘why?’ Why? Because, I know I won’t get an answer. I stay positive even when it appears that I’m not. Why? Because … everything’s going to be alright in time. Does it make me hurt less? NO.
Sound began penetrating my mind … my eyes became aware for a moment, and I saw a plane fly into a tall building. It’s a movie, I thought. I … closed back up, until …
My eyes were trying to see out of the watery curtain before them. Was that breaking news of some sort? I heard the man’s voice … he was talking excitedly … what was he saying. It sounded like something ‘bad’ had happened. It wasn’t a movie … oh my God! I had been watching a plane fly into one of the twin towers.
I went into another shock … the shock grew. I was overwhelmed with grief … knowing we had to … go to the funeral home shortly … to pick up my mother’s ashes; oh my God! My mama was dead!
Something equally as bad … had just happened, somewhere … I still didn’t understand ‘what’ at that time. The man was pointing toward the tall building …
I do remember thinking as I was getting the gist of what was happening, how frightened my mother would have been if she’d been sitting alone … watching tv … we’d been attacked on American soil for the first time!
The second plane hit … my mind couldn’t comprehend … all those people!
All those people! I saw things falling in the sky … later, I knew they were bodies of people who were jumping into heaven … to keep from burning in the flames of the hell they were caught in.
We left the house … I felt I was in a white fog. I was numb from the inside out. We were going to pick up my mother’s ashes at the funeral home … oh my God! My mama was dead! My mama was dead! My mind screamed with pain … screamed loudly. No one heard me.
I vaguely remember the man handing me a bag … it was heavy in my hands. The bag sure was smooth, neat-looking … new, brown. My hand caressed the texture … (the artist in me).
It was open at the top … my eyes could see … oh my God! My mama … was in my … hands! Mama! My mama is dead!
I was holding my mama in my hands … her ashes weighed almost as much as a baby. Maybe like how much I weighed as a baby, when she once held me in her hands.
I held my mama close to my Heart. Mama! I cradled her in my arms; carried her out to our vehicle.
The saddest thing happened … more tears, grief on top of grief … in my Heart. My brother was in the parking lot. No one had thought to call him! He’d come to go to a funeral. Oh my God. My poor brother … my very Heart broke for him. He had driven fourteen hours to get here.
Life can be so cruel … sad, happy. We all make it be either way; sometimes, unintentionally. My Heart cries for many things….. it will until the day … I die.
Maybe when I die one day … my last breath will be one of such relief … as it goes out of my body, it’ll leave my face looking as peaceful as my mother’s face was. I will never forget my mother’s face … it seemed to almost … have a little smile. Maybe she was glad to be out of … her Hell.
There are things I’ll write … there are things … I won’t write. My mother was going through a lot just before she died. I knew some of it … learned the rest through time … after she died. She shouldn’t have died … there are others who live now, know this to be true.
We walked into the house; I sat down with my mother’s ashes still in my arms. I sat quietly, lost in my own thoughts … swimming in the sea of grief somewhere in my mind. Grief … shock … go hand in hand. I’m familiar with both … and with it … the darkness it brings.
Voices from the tv began to become louder, excited. My attention was drawn to the tv. I began learning about the deaths of thousands of people on the day we picked my mama’s ashes up from the funeral home.
Photo Credit … photos are of my beautiful mother, Daisy Earlene Strother; it is owned by me. Story is written, owned by me. This is a true story/color of my life. Gloria Faye Brown Bates/ aka #Granny Gee