My grandmother had an older brother- my great uncle, whom I loved and adored. This is what is so ironic to me. Those personality traits I hated in my grandmother- her vanity, racism, sexism, prejudice and controlling personality were even worse in my great Uncle. Except for the vanity. I can't understand it or explain it but he should have been even more of a irritant, but I was able to look past all of his flaws and saw him as a surrogate grandfather. He was a hugely charismatic man with a larger than life personality and loud booming voice. He would sweep my sister and I up into tight hugs and kiss the tops of our heads over and over. He listened to us intently, prayed over us and told us long stories. The best way I can describe him is that he knew what all your bad traits were but he focused only on what was good. He was one of the first people (along with my Mom) who looked past my cold steel exterior and saw a treasure.
My great uncle was unbelievably strong while my grandmother was weak and I think it was because of how they were raised. He was raised to be a man and lead a legacy. She was raised to serve and produce children without asking any questions. If she had been given half the chance I think my grandmother had the potential to do great things. But she was a woman.
In 1996 one single event set off a chain reaction of which the tragic consequences we are dealing with today. My Mom had taken my sister and I to school, my Dad was away and my grandmother was alone in our house fixing breakfast for herself and my disabled aunt. Smoke suddenly began billowing from down the passage, she ran to the room she shared with my aunt to find that a heater had short-circuited and caught alight. The surrounding area and the edge of my aunt's bed had begun to burn. Despite being someone that was prone to severe panicking what she did was truly remarkable.
She lifted my Aunt off the bed, put her in her wheelchair and raced her out into the lounge. Then she went back into the room threw several blankets over the burning heater picked the whole blazing mess up and dumped it outside. She again ran back into the room and threw her bedding over everything else that was burning. My Mom came home to find my grandmother with black hair, hands burnt raw and sobbing uncontrollably because the house had almost burnt down and it was her "fault".
We were truly blessed that day, what could have been a horrible accident was saved because of God's mercy and my grandmother's bravery and quick thinking. We went on with our lives much more thankful but what we didn't know was that a silent switch and been flipped by an invisible hand. Over the next ten years we witnessed a transformation that would shock us all to the core.