How did Ada Mama die?
AnswerI was young, much to young at six years old to understand death and how my great grandmother died in a room that we shared as a bedroom. The night she died she went through
rituals that prepared her for dying, behaviors that it would take years for me to fully comprehend because no one ever took the time to explain the mysteries of death to me.
I remember the Night She Died in my memoir . . . .
My habit, when waking up in the morning, was to lie in bed and gaze out the window separating our beds while I waited for Ada Mama to get me up. This particular morning, however, the call to get up never came. The window shade was down, not up. I laid in my bed awhile longer, expecting any minute that she would get up, pull up the window shade and call for me to get up. She didn't.
“Ada Mama,” I called out. “Ada Mama! Ada Mama!” I hollered out several more times.
Frustrated and tired of calling for her, I decided how to get her attention. I reached under my pillow and pulled out a pencil. I stood up on the bed. Seeing that her head was only partially covered by a quilt, I took aim at her head and threw the pencil across the room. My aim was on target. The pencil hit her on the head and bounced around the room. I held my breath, expecting to get the beating of my life, but she didn't move. I called out her name again and again. Then I really got mad. I got up, put on my clothes and shoes, peeked over at her every so often as I got dressed as fast as I could, still picturing the beating I was gonna get.
I raced back to the shed kitchen door. The door had a lock and chain on it. Turning around, I looked at the front door next to her bed. I tip-toed back into the bedroom, took a deep breath and walked up to the front door next to her bed. It was also locked, but I was able to unlock it, never taking my eyes off of her. I slowly opened the door, which squeaked as I inched it opened wide enough to squeeze through. I dashed out onto the porch, giggling to myself as I ran down the path leading to the train tracks, looking both ways before I crossed over. I ran a few more feet, stopped when I heard someone call my name.
Search result for 'Ada Mama' in Don't Tell Me What To Do: A Spiritual Memoir
Chapter 2: The Night She Died - 1957-19580.
"... has passed. “She still sleep?” I was out of control. I was rebellious. I wanted my way. For these reasons, my mother went along with my father’s idea that I to go live with his grandmother, Ada Mama, in North Carolina. Every week, either she or my father were ..."
"... Born in 1888, Ada Mama became one of the first landowners. She was a tough old lady at 70 years-old. She was well known throughout the area. She had helped to raise many children in Tillery, and she was a reliable source of information for young girls having ..."
"... I was met at the train station in Weldon –a few miles from Tillery--by a relative who drove me to the back wood house where Ada Mama lived alone. She greeted me with a wide, grinning smile, flashing a gold tooth. On her head was an old, floppy hat. This was the woman who raised Grandma' Marie, my father and his brother. ..."
"... Ada Mama picked up my suitcase. I followed behind her, through the screen door and into the house, bumping into a large bed on my left at the entrance to the door. In the house was a small living room, a kitchen, and the one large bedroom where we ..."
"...she announced that we were having fried chicken for dinner. Curious, I followed her out the back door of the shed kitchen, wondering where the fried chicken would come from. I had often watched Grandma' Marie take chicken out her refrigerator to cook, but there wasn't a refrigerator in Ada Mama's house. ..."
"...a tree to lean on. I slide my body down the truck of the tree until my butt hit the ground, and looked around to see if the rooster had followed me. I was too scared to go back to the house. I sat under the tree until Ada Mama came to get me for dinner. I followed her into the house and sat down at the table. Before me was a plate of potatoes, peas, and a wing from the chicken I saw running around the yard without a head. ..."72.
"... I got my first beating on that day. ***** September arrived and Ada Mama registered me for school. “So, this is your young, handsome grandson, Miss Ada?” asked the school secretary. I sat slumped down ..."74.
"... and Ada Mama registered me for school. “So, this is your young, handsome grandson, Miss Ada?” asked the school secretary. I sat slumped down in a chair beside her desk. Ada Mama stood over me with that floppy hat lopsided on her head. Sit up in that chair, boy!” I sat ..."80.
"... leave him with us today, Miss Ada?” Ada Mama smiled at me and flashed that gold tooth at the woman. “Oh, sure child. You keep this little bugger today so I's can mess in my garden today.” Ada Mama left, and I began my first day of school. Predictably, I raised hell, ..."
"... Predictably, I raised hell, disrupted the class, engaged in verbal battles with the teacher and principal. By now, Ada Mama had cut a special switch that she used to regularly beat me. Neither the size of the switch or the length of the beatings made a difference; I acted out more with every beating. Nothing she said or did persuaded me to change my ways. I grew immune to ..."90.
"... me. “If she says yes, I'll take you.” I decided against asking Ada Mama, but came up with an- other plan. On the last day of his visit, I asked him one more time to take me home. Same question. Same answer. “No.” Late in the afternoon, while Ada Mama and ..."
"... was able to get another word out. The two men kept silent while I ate. When I was just about finished, the man asked me once again where I lived. This time I told him as best I could about Ada Mama, where I was going, and how I was going to get there. ..."
"... “Sit back and stop crying,” the man said to me when I realized he was taking me back to Ada Mama. He kept on driving, though, ignoring my sniffling and sobbing, laughing at my desperate attempts to push and kick the car door open --even threatening me with imprisonment--if I didn't sit back, shut up and behave. The tall man pulled into downtown Tillery, locked me in the car as ..."
"... Months passed, summer rolled into fall, the roar of winter wind and snow came and I grew more restless and rebellious in school, more resentful of living in the backwoods, and more hateful of Ada Mama. She threatened me with a freshly cut switch every night, which was the only way I would go out into freezing weather to church. She had the stamina and strength to wrestle me to the floor, fight through my ..."
"... Two months into Spring, on May 5, 1959, things changed. I was sitting up in my bed when Ada Mama gave me my orders for the night. “Do what I tell you, boy! Get that homework done. It’s almost time for you to go to bed.” I had already tried to do my homework on this night, one of the few times I actually made an effort. I couldn't ..."
"... My habit, when waking up in the morning, was to lie in bed and gaze out the window separating our beds while I waited for Ada Mama to get me up. This particular morning, however, the call to get up never came. The window shade was down, not up. I laid in my bed awhile longer, expecting any minute that she would get up, pull up ..."
"... “Ada Mama,” I called out. “Ada Mama! Ada Mama!” I hollered out several more times. Frustrated and tired of calling for her, I decided how to get her attention. I reached under my pillow and pulled out a pencil. I stood up on the bed. Seeing that her head was only ..."
Chapter 8: Interment - 1981-198683.
"... **** It was nearly thirty years to the day since I left Tillery. I was haunted by Ada Mama. In the midst of all that I was doing and accomplishing, I made a decision to go back to Tillery. I decided to revisit the pain and mystery of her life that I fully never understood. When I ..."84.
"... mystery of her life that I fully never understood. When I returned to Tillery, I saw that there were few businesses left. Gone were the stores that Ada Mama used to drag me into. The buildings that remained looked dilapidated and deserted. I had to search for the railroad tracks ..."85.
"... to drag me into. The buildings that remained looked dilapidated and deserted. I had to search for the railroad tracks that Ada Mama and I used to walk into town. The tracks were hidden by weeds and trees. The road leading to the grave yard was now paved. Oh how I remembered that ..."87.
"... Oh how I remembered that clean smell of trees, grass and dirt, so different from the odors I endured in Philly. I thought back to the day I ran away from Ada Mama, believing that I could actually walk to the train station. That train station, I now calculated, was over fifty ..."
"...believing that I could actually walk to the train station. That train station, I now calculated, was over fifty miles from Tillery. I pictured myself walking along the tracks with Ada Mama. I thought about my first time witnessing Ada Mama wringing the neck of a chicken. I laughed at myself. All that I had experienced on the night she died came back to me. ..."
"... What I discovered in the cemetery appalled and amazed me. The headstones on the right and left side of Ada Mama’s grave had collapsed and sunk. I looked around at the rest of the cemetery where I saw that other graves had sunk into the ground. Peering down at her vault, I stepped around to the front of it ..."