Why do I do what I do or am I the way I am…? One word, one person, Grandma. She has much to do with it.
Her name is Elvina but her nickname is Vine (aka Grandma). She died several years ago and I know I owe a lot of who I am to Elvina Joubert and so does my family. Grandma’s seem to be the backbone of a family, especially black families! Mine was a resilient, strong and silent force to be beckoned with. This was a black woman with 5 kids that owned a home on her own in the 1970’s! I’m single, no kids and don’t own currently own a home, let along imagine my life with 5 kids…yikes! Haha! Yet she single-handedly raised her kids and was greatly involved in raising all of her grandkids.
Below are photos in the book, ‘My Father’s Daughter,’ written by Nancy Sinatra Jr. featuring my Grandma as a significant person in his life.
I will never forget it was maybe a month before she passed away and I went to visit her in the last days of her fight against lung cancer (after having survived breast cancer), she was seemed not quite coherent so I asked her, “Grandma do you know who I am?” She responded, “Of course I do. I love you.” I don’t think this woman ever spoke (although it showed in her actions) those words to me in her life but she did this day and I will never forget it. That moment stood in time and is stitched in my memory forever.
I decorate like her, or at least I used to until these last 4 years I’ve adopted a more minimal style, well minimal for me because there are more extreme levels. Then I moved across country from San Diego, CA to Atlanta, GA last year so that eliminated a good deal of stuff. Not to mention, I’m planning for a life of more jet-setting in my future. I’m independent like her and I’m not the most emotionally expressive, also like her. Major aspects of me that make me, well me. I named my dream business ‘House of Vine’ after her and although the move put it on hold while I got my bearings in ATL, I am now back to prepping for this business to thrive and create the life I truly dream of.
I do not tell many if anyone really, that she worked for Frank Sinatra from his Palm Springs, California home. From a few years before the day I was born in 1975 to his death in 1998, she worked for him. She traveled with him, so her career often took her away from home from long work days to several days to weeks at a time. To have her be such a big part of his life, I imagine Frank must have really trusted her and believed in her capabilities to assist him in his efforts as a person and a legendary entertainer. As a kid into my early adulthood, it was just normal. Grandma worked for Mr. S….big deal, lol. I don’t think I realized how legendary and famous he truly was until he died. I often think she kind of died with him. The long hours away often irritated me. As a child it was hard to comprehend why my Grandma would want to be away from her family so much for so long. She took care of us but did she not like us? Or worse, not love us? As an adult, I realized long ago that she was extremely passionate, proud and probably a bit obsessed about her lengthy career with Mr. S. She took pride in running his household, being there for his celebrity house guests, a coordinator of his events, being of personal assistance to him during his travels.
Pictures of my Grandma at the Sinatra home in Palm Springs and working with Frank Sinatra in their hey day.
Yet I was always too shy to bother with asking too many questions. If I could have just one afternoon to ask her strategic questions about her childhood, adult life, working with Frank Sinatra and how it all came to be. My perspective at this point is bigger and I have found my voice. It is extraordinary what she must’ve endured, yet you would never know it, never. I loved just being in her presence. Those moments laying in the bed next to hear as a kid watching Golden Girls or The A Team! I’ll never really know but I do know that she loved me, loved us all in her own unique way. We all miss her.
My strength, independence and work ethic are born of you. I love you grandma! Watch over me in my efforts to continue making House of Vine thrive.
Love San (my family nickname)
Love, Peace and Beauty!