I’ve Never met my paternal (Corrine F. Johnson) or maternal (Susie Mae Arnold) grandmothers a day in my life. Using Ancestry.com and information from their children, I was able to trace them. Corrine Frances Johnson was born in Cape Charles, Virgina in the late 1920’s to Issac Johnson and Lena Thomas. She married Delma Ben Batson Sr. from Newton, Kansas in the 1940s. She lived and died in Norfolk, Virginia.
Susie Mae Arnold of Suffolk, Virginia, ran away to Newark, New Jersey in the 1960’s to get pregnant and finesse a man she didnt know. She then gave birth to a daughter in 1964. A year following the baby’s birth, she passed away and the child was sent back to be raised in virginia. Her child later graduated from high school and immediately attended business college in Roanoke, Virginia, earning a degree in Travel and Tourism. At age 24, Susie Arnold’s daughter Stacy, who claims to have gotten a Tourism degree because she didn’t like being “stuck” in Virginia all her life, had a child by the late Delma Ben Batson Jr. in the late 1980’s. Delma Ben Batson Jr. always bragged about being a sailor and a vietnam vet. Batson saw alot of people being killed in the war. He had frequent nightmares but remained strong. He had the words “Born to Kill” tatted on his upper shoulder, owned a Harley Davison, and was also a part of a notorious biker gang. He died in 2018.
Thinking about these two ladies make my stomach turn. What kind of grandmothers were they? The fact that I never met them says a lot about them. They were probably the kind of grandmas who neglected their children and grandchildren and spent their entire life smoking Camels, drinking, listening to jazz music, and wearing fur coats and picking up men from bars and karaoke for one night stands. They were most likely hanging at pool halls and dealing with shady loansharks who wore flashy gold jewelry, puffed cigars in sketchy looking run down basements, and had a team of rowdy men who would kick anyones ass who owed them money. The kind of grandmothers who were probably at truck stops showing the truckers all their private stuff. They weren’t your typical old fashion grandmotherly role models. They were the kind to beat their children with “switches” (tree branches) and spank them with wooden paddles (like the ones used for ping pong) like the ones I were beat with as a child. They were similar to Penny’s mother in the 1970’s show Goodtimes. Goodtimes was Delma Batson Jr’s favorite tv show. He had it on DVD and would play it when I came to visit.
When I pray at my ancestral altar, I never have a grandmother to talk to. Sometimes I wonder what its like. I imagine her teaching me how to sew pretty dresses, or how to bake bread, or have a tea party. I imagine her holding my hand through a rough time and saying “everything’s going to be okay chile”. I’ve spent my entire life without a real grandmother until I developed a relationship with La Santisima Muerte. She is like the grandmother I never had. Her warm loving precence is always present and I am glad she will never leave my side. La Santisima Muerte is never abusive and she never abandons me. Being devoted to Santa Muerte is the best healing I’ve ever had.