Why do I do what I do…one word, one person comes to my mind, Grandma.
I will never forget it was maybe a month before she passed away and I went to visit her in the last hazy days of her fight against lung cancer (after having survived breast cancer years previous) and I asked her, “Grandma do you know who I am?” She responded, “Of course I do. I love you.” I don’t think this woman ever spoke those words to me in her life but she did this day and I will never forget it. That moment stood in time and is stitched in my memory forever.
(This is a photo of my grandma in her hey day in the kitchen of Frank Sinatra’s Palm Springs, California home.)
I decorate my home like her (per my mom, and I think I have to concur that one!), I’m independent like her and I’m not the most emotionally expressivelike her. Major aspects of me that make me well me. I named this blog and dream business after her. Her name is Elvina but her nickname was Vine. She died a few years ago and yet I know I owe a lot of who I am to Elvina Joubert and so does my family. Grandmas always seem to be the backbone of a family, especially black families! She was a resilient, strong and silent force to be beckoned with. This was a black woman with 5 kids that owned a home on her own in the 1970’s! I am single, no kids and can barely own a home on my own in present day, imagine me with 5 kids…yikes! Haha! She raised her kids and greatly assisted in raising all of her grandkids.
I do not tell many if anyone really, that she worked for Frank Sinatra from his Palm Springs, California home. Call Barbara Sinatra if you must, she will confirm it! I believe from the the day I was born (1975) to his death in 1998, she worked for him. Her ‘work’ often took her away from home for long hours sometimes days or several weeks that she traveled with him. To have her be such a big part of his life, I imagine Frank must have really trusted her and believed in her capabilities to assist him in his efforts as a person and as being a legendary entertainer of his time. As a kid into my early adulthood, it was just normal. Grandma worked for Mr. S….big deal, lol. I don’t think I realized he legendary and famous until he died. I often think she kind of died with him. The long hours away often irritated me as a child it was hard to digest why my grandma would want to be away from her family. She took care of us but did she not like us? Not love us? As an adult woman I now realize she was extremely passionate, proud and probably a bit OCD about her lengthy career with Mr. S. She took pride in being there, running his household, being there for his celebrity house guests, a part of his events, being of personal assistance to him during his travels.
It is real when people say they wish they could have one last moment, last day with a loved one that has passed away. Lord knows how I wish I could see her, touch her, hear her voice now, ask her more questions about her twenty-five plus years of working with Frank Sinatra. Questions about her childhood, motherhood, the day she met my grandfather, the day she left him with four kids in tow. Wow! It is extraordinary what she must have endured, yet you would never know it, never. I loved just being in her presence. Laying on the bed with watching Golden Girls or A Team! Yet I was always so painfully shy, too shy to bother with asking too many questions. Now so many of the answers are gone with her. I’ll never really know. Only know that she loved me, loved us all in her own unique way. We all miss her, miss her ways.
My strength, independence and work ethic are born of you. I love you grandma! Watch over me in my efforts to make House of Vine something special.