Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Of Love and Dollar Bills




Southern secrets can be incredibly scandalous. And I've never told this one. Although back in the day when I was a mere child (that would be...oh....about 10 years ago) it wasn't as scandalous as it was just plain commonplace.


I don't know if she was gifted with a healing vibe or just knew how to get things done. All I know is that my great-grandmother - who lived next door in a little white house when I was growing up - had many old fashioned cures for whatever ailed us. If we had a bee sting she'd dip her handkerchief in wet snuff and make it better. I always thought it was the grossest thing in the world but there was no arguing - ever - with Grannie.

If there was a tee-tiny wart on someone's finger she'd bury a black-eyed pea in the backyard and wait for it to rot - which was supposed to coincide with the disappearance of the wart. Inquisitive and annoying child that I was, I asked her all the time to tell me her secrets. She would not. My questions bordered on disbelief. She could sense it. But others in our town had a great respect for whatever magic worked its way through her southern roots and graced our lives. We loved her and her mysterious ways. Grannie didn't talk much but she always seemed to know what to do about everything.


One of the most special things about Grannie was her faithfulness in small and meaningful acts. Every birthday of my life, even after I married and had a life of my own, she would send a card in the mail with a dollar bill inside.

When I was small it was the dollar that was exciting. As I grew older it was her remembrance and faithfulness that touched my heart each year. I still have almost every card and treasure them. They are all signed Love, Grannie.


And is the case with most southern ladies, she had another secret. Or two.

One of them made a believer out of me.

She could talk the fire out of a burn.

When I was two-years-old I lost my balance and fell open-palmed on the oil furnace grate in the middle hallway of our modest home. Both hands stuck to the metal.
My dad scooped me up and carried me running as fast as he could next door to his grandmother's. Later when I asked about the thin scars that still travel up the middle of both my palms the story was told like this by my aunt, who witnessed the event along with my uncle and parents: She took both your little hands in hers, blew on the burns and whispered over them. You simply stopped crying.




Uh huh. Suurreee I did ( I said later in my grownup common sense mind) until one day something happened to change my tune. I was in my early twenties, newly married and cooking at home (you know there's going to be disaster) and getting ready to play a piano performance at a local church. I somehow accidentally placed one of my hands palm down on the burning red hot electric stove burner in front of me. You could see the eye rings of the burner in my palm. I screamed and then nearly fainted. My once-upon-a-husband scooped me up and took me to his father's house, who was also rumored to have this "gift" of talking out fire - although I'd never actually seen him use it. Trust me, I didn't argue.





There I stood needing a healing, this time with grown up hands, and in pain. The man who brought me there and the man who stood before me with my hands in his, had more faith that this would work than I did. In fact, they never questioned it for a moment.

He blew on the burns and mumbled something under his breath directly on my hand - just like Grannie.
It took about 2 minutes.
They stopped hurting. Immediately. I played the concert. No pain.
I never had terribly bad scars and I never went to the doctor.
Suddenly in the absence of my Grannie's healing vibes, I was ashamed of myself for not believing in her all those years. My great-grandmother lived to be ninety. And I never properly thanked her for her special gifts. Perhaps she wouldn't share them with me because I was such a doubter. She lovingly gave them anyway. Her love came with smelly snuff, a walking cane, buried black-eyed peas and secret whispered words over a little girl's burns.
Intangible gifts.


Every one.
I can still faintly see the grid imprint of the furnace grate in my palms. And I remember the scorching pain of a stove burn. But one thing I will never forget. The memory of beautifully knotted French braids down her back in the mirror. The tender feeling of her hands in my own hair as she brushed and twisted.......and how that child grew up with healthy hands to play her great-grandmother's favorite songs.
There was indeed something healing about her touch.
Perhaps her gift to me was a knowing and silent belief that sometimes wisdom lies in things that cannot be explained. And somehow, in the criss-cross marks I've run my fingers along all these years in my common sense life, alongside the winding marks in my palms, runs a constant reminder of her faithful acts of love.
And that's no secret.





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Copyright © 2008 Mimi Lenox. All Rights Reserved.

34 comments:

Star8278 said...

Simply amazing.
We're all given gifts by God. Those who choose to use them for good, are most blessed.

Great memories, thanks for sharing.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

i have read about this but never seen it myself. i do believe though!

smiles, bee
xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Charles Gramlich said...

That's a wonderful story. So great to have such wonderful memories of your grandmother. I bet she'd be happy to be remembered.

Dawn said...

Beautifully written Mimi... your grandmother was blessed. It reminds me of a story my father used to tell. His hands were covered in warts and he had them "charmed". (I think that's the word he used.)
The healer was the seventh son of a seventh son. I never knew my father to lie so I believed him when he said a few days later he woke up and the warts were gone.

Mimi Lenox said...

Star - The older I get the more I realize how blessed my childhood was - we didn't have much materially - but in hindsight, more and more, it seems we had some very important things indeed.

Mimi Lenox said...

Empress - As Star said, it is pretty amazing. I'm certainly not one to argue!

Charles - Thank you. She was special.

Mimi Lenox said...

Dawn - Thank you. I never heard the word "charmed" (Grannie was extremely religious) but same thing really. She also said a woman couldn't tell another woman in the family. It had to be passed down to the opposite gender. I believe she told the secret to my dad's brother who has since died.

My former father-in-law would have told it to me I'm sure, but he was killed in an accident in the 90s. It would be fascinating to learn what the words were......

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Grandmas are magical indeed. Yours sounds a great deal like mine. Those were precious times for us weren't they? Yes, they were. What an inspirational post Mimi. Have a great day. Big hug and lotsa lovies. :)

Jean-Luc Picard said...

A fine story, Mimi. Like your new set-up.

Shannon H. said...

Beautifully amazing story.

Bond said...

you cooking...bwahahahahahahah

OH that was not the subject of this story...OH

You probably were posing and wanted to look sexy for the then-hubster and leaned over to get that come-hither look...but forgot the stove was right there...

fess up

kathleenmaher said...

"Talking out Fire."

I'll remember that, even if I don't get to know it.

Linda said...

I have always believed in the unexplainable and believed that some people have been given special gifts to share with others. Your Grannie sounds like such a person and I think it's wonderful that you still have the birthday cards from her.

She sounds like a true Southern Gem!

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

What a terrific story. You brought your "A" game today...

Lee said...

There are so many of the folk remedies and such that work despite the doubter's attempts to explain them away.

Mimi, you tell the most wonderful stories of family and connectedness. Please don't ever stop. You fill my heart with warmth and peace with every story.

crazy working mom said...

What a great story, Mims! This post made me smile so much. :D I'll bet she was a WONDERFUL lady.

Mimi Lenox said...

Sandee - She was in all things always - a lady.

Jean-luc - I appreciate that very much. Thank you.

Shannon - Love to see your comments here Shannon. Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you liked the story.

Mimi Lenox said...

Bond - Something like that....ahem...

Kathleen - I can see you weaving this in and out of your story lines! Feel free. It's fascinating stuff.

Mimi Lenox said...

Linda - A gem and as I've stated before, a true lady.

Bud - Thank you sir.

Mimi Lenox said...

Lee - You just made me cry. I needed the encouragement. Thank you.

Tish - She really was. Thanks for reading and commenting, my friend.

Speedcat Hollydale said...

I loved this, Mimi. Your writting just bubbles over with emotions.

Like the rest here, I am awestruck be your storytelling capabilities.

Lee said...

Your Highness, I didn't mean to make you cry! I hope they were happy tears. By the way, love Bloggingham Palace. What a spread. Hey, that's big enough for a Tarheel party!!! :0)

Mimi Lenox said...

Eric - I appreciate that very very much. Thank you. I'm so glad you like the story.

Mimi Lenox said...

Lee - Oh yes. Happy happy tears. If people are touched by what I write, that makes me very happy.

The castle is a tad big.....but a Tarheel party sounds perfect!

Brenda said...

I just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed this story so much -- and thought that my readers might appreciate it too -- that I've given this a mention and link on my blog. I TRIED not to butcher it with my "Reader's Digest" condensed version but in providing a snippet, it's a bit lacking so I hope you'll forgive me nonetheless!

Mimi Lenox said...

Brenda - Thank you so much for highlighting this story and letting her voice be heard again. I went to your site and put a mention in my sidebar. Your blog is a lovely place to be.

Again, thank you. I'm thrilled my story touched you.

Patti said...

Dear Mimi,
This is beautiful. You are a truly wonderful storyteller.
Your Grannie sounds like a special lady and like the others I was touched reading about her.

Sorry I'm stopping by two days late.

Ralph said...

Grandmas (and grandpas) have this bond between themselves an the grandkids. They believe in the grandkids, and we don't always see it at the time. But they plant the seed of belief in ourselves. They have seen more, and they know more than us what is possible.

You are of great tradition. Great family!

Travis said...

Thanks again for sharing this story.

Ferd said...

I LOVED the richness of your recollections and your message, Mimi. It seems to me she deserved the titles of GREAT GRAND MOTHER!
And as I get to know you more and more, I see you are a GOOD Queen, despite the horrors of the dungeon! Once-upon-a-husband must have been a frog in disguise.

Mimi Lenox said...

Patti - Anytime you praise my writing it is a blessed day. I admire your work very much O-Princess-Of-Succintness....

Ralph - You nailed it. That is exactly correct. Their special gift to us comes at a time in their own lives when they've entered a new phase of (hopefully) peaceful living and we have just begun our own journeys. A perfect combination of wisdom.

Mimi Lenox said...

Travis - You are welcome my friend.

Ferd - Excellent point. She DID deserve it and much more.

I shall reserve my public opinion on once-upon-a-husband....what's that?? Hush down there! You know it's part of the divorce degree. You say it's too cold down there???

Sigh.

Mimi Lenox said...

Did I just say "divorce deGREE? Bwaahhaaaaa......Freudian.

Ferd said...

Yes, you get a degree in first marriage. I have one, too!
And, I'm a huge fan of second marriages!

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