Excerpt from “The Mistress Heart”:
My great grandmother was a wealth of wisdom! She stood all of 5Ft tall and was as cute, compact, and powerful as any plutonium nugget. We received regular doses of her, thanks to our mother’s wandering nature. I likened her to the potency of a tablespoon of molasses, which she required us to ingest every morning. She was dark, sweet, sassy and capable of staving off any cold or flu if the ritual was religiously followed daily. I loved to watch her whirlwind through her days, and the laundry, the ironing (including the towels and your underwear), the housework, the cooking, her job, the garden as well as stopping intermittently to bandage peoples’ lives with loving spiritual wisdom of the “turn-the-other-cheek” kind. I remember the first time I heard that, I kept wondering what you did after you’d turned the 2 you had! (Of course that’s before I understand there were four on most people, and let’s face it, it really doesn’t apply unless you’re…um…groin-ally famous, or infamous at best!) Her kindness and love superceded her in all areas. I was sure she was the wisest person ever! Her words, often, were the only drops of glue that held me together in life and tragedy.
When I was 8 years old I remember sitting on the cool velvety grass of my great grandparents home. She was sitting on an old rattan chair with the high back and I was leaning between her legs and had begun to play with her toes. The pop of her snapping green beans in the afternoon stillness reminded me of the firecrackers to come a few weeks down the road. Then, I heard silence and felt the air about her relax from her usual intensity.
“You know Bear, my feet ain’t pretty but they sho have carried me a many mile.” I looked up from twisting her toes, in a manner that might have hurt someone else, but Mommalyn’s feet had long since lost their feeling.
“How far Mommalyn?” I asked as if she were talking about a great race of some kind.
“Well I don’t rightly know child, but I’ll bet they’s been ‘round the world a few times!” She said and winked at me. I let her feet slip from my hand and leaned more on her legs again. I closed my eyes and breathed in her fresh scent. She still line-dried everything outside. The mixture of her scent with starch, bleach and the wondrous line dried freshness her clothes imbued, I’ll miss for the rest of my life. I wish I could have bottled that treasure some years ago. It took some major difficulties in life for me to come to understand what she was saying, and you know, my feet ain’t pretty neither!