My tribute to my Grandma Vanilla at her homegoing…

I do not know anyone besides my sisters and brother who can say they’ve known 5 grandmothers and 4 grandfathers in their life. That’s a miracle. Our parents had us young, and so we were blessed with that. Now I have lost 8 of my grands, one just last year. But, I have to say, this one right here hurts the most.

A large portion of my earliest memories are right here in this church [Caldwell Chapel A.M.E. Zion in Kankakee, Illinois]: Richard’s voice, Mr. Harwell’s smile, Rev. Richmond’s preaching. Underneath this chapel, in that basement and around these surrounding rooms… I saw it as another little happy home, long before my immediate family was baptized and found a church home for us across town.

That example before my eyes early on in life– of handsome and well-dressed Black people, of praising God and being dependable to a community in his name, of building young people up to love ourselves and our gifts– gave me what I know are the cornerstones of the person and woman I am today. And that was because Vanilla Hudson took it upon herself to bring her great-granddaughter to church with her, for nothing in it for her. And I was just the first great-grandchild she would do this for. She was doing it up until she could no longer be here. 

Easter 1980
Getting ready to go to church with my Grandma, on Easter when I was 3

I drove home from the cities a few times and woke up on Sunday to sneak up next to my grandmother in a pew, without having to call her first to check if she was coming. I just knew she would be here. What does that say about a person, commitment, self-respect, and discipline? It said to me we should live most of life knowing when to step back, take a breath and ask: “What would Vanilla Hudson do?” Once we do whatever that might be, everything starts to work for a greater good.

This woman is the strongest example of power and sacrifice to higher purposes I have ever known up close and personal. She shows us life lived to maximum potential, and inspires us all to the same. No excuses. No complaints. No regrets. I do have one regret: my family I build throughout my life will not know her. But, they will surely know the woman it is my pride and joy to be middle-named after. As long as I go for living as long and happily as she did, not a day will pass I don’t miss her.

(Here is her formal obituary in our Kankakee, Illinois, town newspaper The Daily Journal: Vanilla Hudson obituary.)

Grandma Vanilla 1
Vanilla (Franks) Hudson: June 12, 1924-August 14, 2016…mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great grandmother, aunt, sister, friend, community volunteer, woman of God, servant to the Lord.

Have negression waiting in your inboxSubscribe Today.

Twitter  |  Pinterest  |

6 thoughts on “My tribute to my Grandma Vanilla at her homegoing…

  1. Thank you Kalisha Buckhanon for your wonderful tribute to your grandmother. Reading this reminded me of my first experience with going to church with my Great Grand Parents, the late Bessie Lee Rice and Deacon Robert Rice…I mean I have stories to tell and first loved going to church because of them…Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with my memories…Thank You for sharing a little bit of your grandma Vanilla. May her memories comfort you always.
    Thank You,
    Traci Brown-Powell
    Evanston Township High School

    *We met many many years ago when you taught a creative wiriting workshop at Chicago State University for our book club members…It was Amazing! Our students learned a lot.-Thank You!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Traci…I remember that workshop. It’s very sad that program did not continue. Yes, we have to pick up the torch for our elders who made us who we are today and we did not even realize it at the times. Many blessings to you, Kalisha


Your thoughts are valued and appreciated.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s