My grandmother, Katherine Keith, has inspired me t
o get an education. Shewas a role model, strict but lovable. A strong woman positive about life
and successful was also a hard-worker. As a divorced mother of nine
children, she single-handedly raised seven sons and two daughters.
In 1954 she moved 300 miles from her home to attend Jones Barber
College in Jacksonville, Florida while her children remained at home with
her husband. After she completed her studies at the barber college, she
worked for several years in her cousin’s barber shop. Then one day in 1970
she and her second son opened the Keith Barber Shop.
The Keith barber shop was the talk of the town. My grandmother moved
at a slow pace but she did such a good job with each customer that all her
customers raved about her. When a customer left her chair, he felt that the
time spent had been worth it. Many of my grandmother’s customers were
children. They loved my grandmother. She always had a kind word for each
child and she was very patient with them.
By working ten hour days, six days a week, my grandmother was able to
send three sons to the University and three sons to barber college. She
worked hard so that all her children would receive a good education. She
was quite pleased that all her children are high school graduates.
As a Christian woman, my grandmother attended church every Sunday
Morning. On Sundays she wanted all the children to wake up early and get
dressed for church. If you did not get up when she wanted you to do so, you
would wake up feeling a belt across your backside. My grandmother was a
Mother of the church but she could never get to church on time. But she
would arrive before the minister began his sermon.
My grandmother was a strict disciplinarian. When you saw her bite her
tongue you knew she was displeased. She was about four feet and nine inches
tall but she packed a great deal of power in her swing. When you saw her
with a belt or switch, you had better duck or run for the border. She was
really set in her ways about cleaning a house. We had to do the chores the
way she wanted them done. Every Saturday morning we did major cleaning. We
vacuumed and mopped the floor, washed the “good” china, and dusted
everything in sight. On cleaning day, I felt like I was Cinderella among
I loved my grandmother but I intensely disliked taking her to the
supermarket. When grandmother entered the grocery store, I knew it would be
waiting several hours before she emerged again. My grandmother would spend
a great deal of time going down each aisle. And when she saw someone she
knew, she would stop and talk to them. The conversation would last for at
least 30 minutes. After waiting in the car for quite sometime I would come
into the store to get her or help her finish shopping. After all that time
she would only have one or two items in her cart and still have several
items on her shopping list. As she left the store, she would continue to
stop and talk with people she knew. I would say, “Come on grandmother”. She
would say “I’m coming”. But she didn’t move to quickly.
She accomplished so much in her life time. She raised all nine of her
children, she gave unconditional love to her grandchildren, she was active
in her church, and she participated in community affairs. She believed that
women should get as much education as possible because only then could
women insure their future and their children’s future.
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