Lost Light

By Kayla Shaw
Spring 2020

There is sadness in her eyes. Her voice quivers as she speaks. She sleeps to escape reality. As the coronavirus sweeps the nation, she is depressed. She does not get up in the morning. She does not want to look outside. She wants her room dark and the door closed to discourage visitors. The lady who was once an independent force to be reckoned with has become almost childlike. She does eat. She does not want to take her medicine. She does not get out of bed unless she needs to go to the bathroom, and she does not comb her hair. The Josephine that I have had the privilege of knowing my entire life, the woman I called the Queen of Perfume, The Hair Dye Goddess, and “Grandma,” has no desire to be the independent woman I worshipped.

My Grandma, JoJo Jam, has faced cancer three times in the past four years and has had multiple surgeries for various forms of cancer. Although she has been through so much, she maintained her independence until the recent discovery of cancer. It was only then that she began to live with us. She was doing well until she learned that the chemotherapy did not completely remove the cancer. Although terrified, she was brave enough to say yes to a new treatment plan.

News about the coronavirus and its effect on elders have encouraged my grandmother to watch the news more and to open the door to her room and invite us in to talk to her. She calls us “my guests” when we enter the room. My aunt and cousins would come over with masks and sit and talk with her for hours. It seemed that the light was slowly returning to grandmother’s eyes.

She would walk her “guests” to the front door and wave as we drove off. When I asked her what caused the dramatic change in her behavior, she said, “Seeing all the old people on television waving to their kids and families through a glass just didn’t sit well with me when I got y’all here. I wanna get better.”. The light is slowly returning to her eyes. She is becoming her old self again. My Queen of Perfume. The Hair Dye Goddess. My Grandmother.