Icons Of Charleston And The Low Country

                                                          "Papa John and Me"






When I was a little girl, I was terrified of my grandfather. It seems I never thought, "what's the worse thing he could do to me?" I do remember one night he took his belt off and said, "I'm gonna whip you good sister." But I don't remember if he did. But I do remember,  if ever my grandmother planned to leave me with Papa in order to go out with my aunt to see my aunt's mother-in-law, by evening time I would become so sick I would be vomiting. This, of course made my grandmother take off her hat and gloves and resign herself to staying at home. I felt guilty but I still felt sick at my stomach. Papa never yelled really loud at me and he never, never used bad language or allowed anyone else to use it. He could, however get a look in his eyes that made me see lightening over the ocean and hit my chest like thunder-(Grey blue,  the colors of the ocean when a storm was right on the way, ready to start, I could feel the big thug in my chest.)

And this I do know, he was lying in his chair by the fire one evening when my grandmother slipped in quietly and threw some wax paper into the fireplace. She did this because she knew that I loved the way the wax paper made the fire turn blue. She left and the wax paper fell out of the fire. I cautiously picked up the forbidden fire poker and pushed the wax paper back into the flames. Papa shifted in his chair. In my terror I put the red-hot poker behind my back causing searing pain to my leg. I never flinched. I never uttered a sound. The scar is there on my leg to this day, but I have no particular thoughts about it. One would think all this fear would make me keep a wide distance from my beloved Papa, but not so! I loved the places he went and the things he did. His solitude was enhanced not spoiled by my presence. In the silence between us, around us, our souls bonded together. We both began to realize that except for our dispositions, he and I were far more alike than anyone else in the family. Both of us were mutually reclusive and gregarious, desperately yearning for the land and the water.  

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