“She’s up to something” – this is perhaps the only thing that my father and my grandmother agreed on prior to my mother’s death in March 1990.
My mother was born Abelene Graves on 11/21/1949. It was soon realized that she was not like everyone else. She was smart to the point of my grandmother’s exhaustion always wanting to know why.
To my grandmother’s dismay, my mom wanted to attend Jackson State University more than 60 miles away from home and live on campus. My grandmother agreed on one condition that she would pick up my mother every Friday after classes and she would spend every weekend in Prentiss, MS. Imagine how hard it was for my parents to date. My dad said that a date was sitting in my grandmother’s living room watching t.v. with the family. My grandmother would tell him to leave about 10pm and walk him to the door. He would wave good-bye to my mom. They eloped in 1970.
My mom caused another uproar after her elopement when she changed her name to Toni. She had always felt that Abelene was not a good name for her. She had been named after her father, Abraham.
It wasn’t only inside the family that my mom was “up to something”. In the mid 70s, she cut her hair into a short fro and was the talk of the office in which she worked. Later, she grew out the fro and dyed her hair honey blonde and then changed it to a bright auburn.
I remember that she was always doing something new from welding abstract sculptures to painting watercolors of magnolias. There was a corner in kitchen that was always filled my mom’s latest hobby.
It has been 20 years since her passing, but our family is filled with stories about a mom that was sure that she could do anything.