As Keegan discussed in one of his previous posts, Grandmommy often called him for her technical troubles. It would be strange if Keegan went a couple of weeks without hearing from her, especially when she was working on one of her many music projects on her laptop.
I think it was during my senior year of high school when Keegan, myself, and some of my friends attended the semi-formal dance at my school, and it was on this night that Grandmommy called Keegan with a particularly important computer-related question. We were all in Keegan’s car, driving back to his house when he got the call. When his phone rang at 11 at night, me and Keegan knew it could only be one person: Grandmommy. He put her on speaker phone since he was driving, so me and my friends quickly hushed up so as to let him listen to Grandmommy’s Mac malfunctions uninterrupted.
She had been working on some kind of project in iTunes, and from what I remember, it seemed like she was trying to figure out how to burn a playlist onto a disc. In her calm, singsong voice, she tried to find the right words to explain to Keegan what her problem was. We could hear the clicks of her computer in the background as she tapped away on the mousepad, trying to navigate her music library. Every once in a while, she would accidentally click on a song in her library and it would play over the speaker. We tried to suppress our giggles every so often as she muttered a “gosh darn it! I didn’t mean to do that” or as she laughed airily, exasperated at her computer for not doing what she wanted it to do. But as Keegan started talking her through some of the steps she needed to accomplish her goal, things on her end started getting quiet. She didn’t say much as Keegan explained what she needed to do. I immediately thought that that was sort of unusual–even if she wasn’t talking directly to Keegan, Grandmommy usually talked to herself as she navigated through the folders on her Mac, naming them out loud, as much for the benefit of herself as for Keegan, so he could follow along even though he wasn’t physically with her and her computer. Then, all of a sudden, we heard her voice ring loud and clear with a gasp of frustration.
“I don’t understand why it won’t do that,” Grandmommy said.
But her voice was swept away just as quickly as it had come through the phone. When Keegan asked what was wrong, a shrill blast of what sounded like one long, angry, high-pitched shout came through the speaker. When I made eye contact with my friends in the backseat, we all clapped hands over our mouths so our laughter wouldn’t escape and carry into the conversation we thought Grandmommy and Keegan were still having. But our muffled laughs were quickly extinguished when Keegan hung up his phone.
“We must have gotten disconnected,” he said.
“Wait, so that noise wasn’t Grandmommy screaming?” I asked.
We had all gotten the idea that Grandmommy was so frustrated with iTunes that she had either yelled out in anger or some kind of crazy music had started playing from her laptop and had bled through the phone.
“Nope–we got cut off,” Keegan said.
Within just a few more seconds, his cell phone rang, and Grandmommy’s name on the screen lit up the dark car. Keegan answered and confirmed with Grandmommy that they had been disconnected and what we thought had been her yelling was actually some kind of weird noise from their phones being so abruptly cut off.
Nowadays, whenever I talk about Keegan’s grandparents with my friends, they usually ask me to clarify which one I’m talking about since Keegan is blessed with so many sets of grandparents. For the friends who were in the car with us that night, clarification is easy. They always ask me, “Wait–is this the grandma that started yelling at her computer on the phone that one time?” If it was Grandmommy we were talking about, I’m able to confirm, “Yep, that’s the one!” while we laugh. But I always have to clarify a little further–it may be a humorous memory that gives my friends some kind of connection to Ellen Jayne, but more importantly, it’s a memory that tells us a little bit about what Ellen Jayne WASN’T like. As my memory suggests, yes, she DID call Keegan for many of her tech issues, and she DID get frustrated at times when she couldn’t figure things out on her own (or when her grandson wasn’t there to help her!), but she DIDN’T yell like that on the phone, despite joking around that she did.
The real moral of this story is that Ellen Jayne was never an angry person. Never in my life have I heard her yell at anyone or anything. We laugh at this story now, but every time I think about it, it just serves as a reminder of how silly we were to think Ellen Jayne could have been angry enough to yell like that. Though it may have been hilarious to hear a grandmother yell in frustration on the phone, the fact of the matter is that I was really laughing because I knew how unlikely that would have been for Ellen Jayne to do such a thing. She may have been the life of the party, but she was calm at heart; she was at peace with herself and others.
As the stories about Grandmommy keep pouring in through various means (including this website–thank you all for sharing!), I am continuously learning about her legacy. It seems as deep and wide as the ocean–she touched countless lives and gave everyone she came into contact with some kind of token of her memory. She was unforgettable, one of a kind. She taught us so many lessons, and one of them was to live with joy. (I have caught myself singing and dancing in public on more than one occasion since hearing stories at her memorial service this past Saturday of her and J. Clyde doing just that–I hope I can uphold her legacy of joy and laughter. It truly is the little things in life.) I will never be able to pin down exactly how she touched each and every one of us. I will never be able to define exactly what made her tick or exactly the many facets her legacy encompasses. This is just a mere drop I can contribute to the ocean of memories, laughs, and love that Ellen Jayne gave to us all: do not live your life in anger and cherish the joyful peace that comes from loving one another.