My Soul Provider

My 90-year-old grandmother, Ruthie Mae Tate -- granny as I affectionately call her -- is the glue to our family; the ultimate queen of our universe. She's a woman who I can confide in about dating disasters and disappointments. She listens! She laughs! She encourages, but most of all she prays. I know that spending time with her grandchildren is one of her favorite pastimes. The chit chats accompanied with laughter about the good ole days on her uncovered sofa sipping on tea, coffee and sometimes wine no longer has any rules. We are free to roam granny's place without worrying about plastic coverings and areas reserved just for kids. She no longer cares about the tangible things, but the intangible like spending quality time together. As I've gotten older, I've realized that time is the greatest gift I could ever give her. It is a priority and a pleasure to love on a woman that is my ultimate soul provider. I have learned to be open, but guarded; sweet, but spicy; a little sassy, but respectful; fearless, tenacious and faithful. She is my rock ... feisty, soulful, prayerful, brave and unfiltered. There is never a dull moment in her presence. They say well-behaved women rarely make history. Well, my granny is barely that unless she's sitting on a pew on Sunday mornings.

Growing up in Detroit, my granny carefully prepared meals for us during our long summer stays at her house while my mom -- a single mother -- went to work. Her homemade applesauce and grilled cheese sandwiches were epic. I didn't get a chance to really appreciate her culinary skills until I was much older. Blame it on my picky ways. Most days, I would barely eat, but the one thing I did do was tune into the stories with her everyday. Til this day, we still watch The Young and the Restless and later discuss the wrath of Victor Newman. Now, Wednesday nights are reserved for Empire and her girl Cookie. This is the only show that I can remember ever keeping my granny up past her bedtime. I will forever be grateful to my granny for her love and guidance. She was a driving force in making sure I went to college and graduated. She gave me the power and permission to say "no." She is always worrying that I work too hard, I'm not sleeping or eating enough. The really special thing that she does is make sure her house is toasty in the winter time because she know I hate being cold. It's in those special moments that I realize, 'wow, I'm pretty lucky.'

Ruthie Mae Tate is a woman on the move. Being 90 definitely hasn't slowed her down. She congregates with friends at her Monday bowling league, in which she insists on driving herself. I remember that time my sister Salinia got in her car and Mary J. Blige came blaring through the speakers. She waits for no one to enjoy life. We went to Las Vegas last year for the celebration of her 90th birthday because that's where she wanted to go. I tell people all the time that I got my passion for fashion and love for shopping from her. It came honest. When I was recently home, she gave me one of her vintage outfits. It's an outfit she wore on a cruise with her late husband -- my grandfather -- one of the last vacations they enjoyed together. My grandfather, Jerome Tate -- California as he was affectionately called by friends -- was a true love story. Absolutely the nicest person I've known in this lifetime. People tell me I'm nice, but I am nothing compared to the kindness, love and gratitude both my grandparents have shown me over the years. So, as Women's History Month comes to an end, I salute the woman who helped raise me. A woman whose faith is unwavering, laughter is unforgettable and love is unmatched. Tried and true ... I love you Ruthie Mae Tate!