Swirls Of Smoke … Dried Flowers, Ribbon … Grandma Alma Was In The House!
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
My son, Tommy … at Grandma Alma’s grave. She was his great-grandmother. Grandma Alma was so special to me in my young life; I can’t tell anyone in words how her death affected me. I have been trying … in words … to tell you how Tommy’s death has affected me … I wouldn’t be here, now … if I had not been writing. That’s the cold, stark truth … Photo is owned by me, Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee.
Deep in conversation … we sat at the dining table, drinking cups of hot coffee. We were discussing the package that had arrived earlier that day.
The big, brown … padded envelope lay in the center of the table … on top of it … lay the contents. Our eyes were drawn there as we talked. Tears were in our eyes … this meant something to all of us.
As we spoke, I looked at the dried flowers. I could see the faded colors on them. I loved beauty … I loved to draw, paint. I appreciated how pretty they were … even if they meant something very sad, painful to me.
My Grandma Alma’s death affected me, greatly. No one ever knew … I lived away from everyone in … the family. My Grandma Alma played such a huge role in my young life … not only that, she lived in Hell … so, did I. Countless grandchildren were thrown there to … survive. We … all … grew up … scarred, burned by the … flames of Hell.
I write my story … sadly, I can’t write theirs. I can be their witness if they should ever write, just as they are mine. We can validate each other, if need be.
In my stories … know that I wasn’t the only … ‘survivor’ … and when I write ‘about then’ … I am seeing their little faces, also … in the corner of my mind … my mind’s eye keeps looking toward them.
Sometimes, ‘now’ … one of them will say … ‘I lived that, also’ … when you write … ‘you are writing my story, too’. I’m writing my story … I can’t tell theirs … only they … knew … how it ‘felt to live their life’.
Only they knew the kind of pain they lived … We all went through things, the others didn’t know … only after growing up … sometimes, these things were revealed. We would always say … ‘so, that’s why’! Then, the next thing one of us would say … would be … ‘Oh, my God’!
Cousins … we were cousins. I lived in the North Carolina mountains, and my cousin … Jimmy, had come to visit. He was staying several days. Tommy, my son (at that time, he was very young) … was also, sitting at the table.
I thought the world of Jimmy. He was smart … truthfully, instead of me … he should have been the writer of the family. I never thought to write, ‘then’ … and always encouraged him to write a book.
My writing ‘then’ … was 18-20 page letters to everyone … people complained of ‘too long’ letters! Sometimes … I just couldn’t stop writing; I even drew pictures on the sheets I wrote on … envelopes. ‘Now’ … I type my letters … draw, doodle on the envelopes.
Jimmy never did write a book before he died … he could have written ‘one hell of a damn good book’! He sure could write! Not only that … he could paint. He could do all … so, much better than me … more sophisticated.
The smoke going up from the table was so natural … Jimmy always smoked. There was an ashe tray close by, for him. As we continued to talk … something kept niggling at me, as I watched the smoke rise up in a soft, gentle spiral. Something was trying to get my attention …
Oh, my God … the ‘smoke’ wasn’t coming from the ashe tray … Jimmy didn’t have a cigarette lit … the smoke was rising from the dried flowers, ribbon … laying on the big, brown envelope! My eyes were darting to the ashe tray … to the envelope with the flowers … I was trying to make some sort of sense …
I was in shock … I knew what I was seeing … looked to Jimmy, to see if he noticed. He was noticing! The smoke disappeared.
I reached out to pick the dried flowers up … to see if somehow, dust was rising from them … it wasn’t. I held them in my hand. My Aunt Frankie had kept her promise, sent them to me.
My Grandma Alma had died … I went to her funeral, came back to the mountains. Aunt Frankie told me she’d send some of Grandma Alma’s flowers to me, later.
I checked to see what could have made the ‘smoke’ rise from the flowers … there wasn’t anything that could have caused it. This was the subject of our conversation, now.
Did you see that! Can you believe what your eyes just saw? We were sitting there … stunned, knowing we’d just witnessed something unusual. Tommy’s little face showed amazement … how did that happen?
I began putting the flowers, ribbon back into the padded envelope, gently. I treasured Grandma Alma’s flowers … I didn’t want them to become damaged … a little wisp of smoke slowly rose up from the opening of the envelope!
I dropped the package onto the table … leaned forward quickly to look closer. I wanted to see that smoke, examine it! I knew it was real … my mind just couldn’t accept what I was seeing.
It was real … the little wisp of smoke … went away … just like it had never been there. Jimmy witnessed the whole thing. Through the years, we spoke of this … we knew what it was.
Grandma Alma was in the house!
NOTE FROM THIS AUTHOR:
This is a true story … most all I write is true, from my life. If it isn’t, I will say so, at the end. I saw strange things all through my life … if I hadn’t seen them … and heard someone else say they did … it would be hard to believe.
I don’t tell all I see … or know; it’s not my nature. Everything … doesn’t … have to be … told in life. Some things in my life … will never be told, nor talked about to anyone.
All photos I use on my stories/posts … stories written … are owned by me … Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee