There was one weekend when I stayed with my Cousin D and we both pestered Granma mercilessly all day and most of the evening. Having left something at her house that D and I wanted to use, I dashed next door to Granma and Granpa's to retrieve it. She was brushing down her hair with her eyes closed. It was such a peaceful and beautiful moment to observe. Granma S would always brush down her hair when I was younger. She'd wear it pinned back all day for her factory work job and then at night, she'd unpin it and brush it down at night. It was pretty hair - dark mostly with some salt and pepper gray beginning at the temples and at a curl in her forehead - and mostly down to her shoulders all around - really pretty hair.
"Whatchya doin' Granma?" "Closing up shop!" "Huh?" "Closing up shop ~ telling everyone good night and get some rest ~ closing up shop." "Why are your eyes closed?" "So I can close up shop!" "Huh?" "Close up shop. End things for the day. Let 'them' know I'm done for the day and don't want to hear any more." "Oh. Have you seen my drawing pad? I think I left it here before supper." "Basement by the wringer." "Okay, thanks!" "Tell your Uncle J Granpa and I need him to help us tomorrow with picking all the blackberries that are left." "Okay, g'night!" "G'night!"
Doesn't sound like much of a conversation does it? But, years later, like right now, I remember it so well and so darned clearly. She was telling me something I really needed to know and had said so on numerous occasions - how to turn off my "gift" when I wanted to. Doesn't sound like much of an instruction does it? No, not really. But, it was HUGE!!!!! She had a ritual that she went through every day and night that told "them" that she was through listening and being engaged with them. I just didn't realize it at the time because of my age and inattention to her subtle teaching about being "gifted" and how to manage it. And, Granma was also telling me, without telling me, that she still had her gift and used it most days, even though it was something Granpa really didn't "cotton to". Again, youth and inattention let me miss that one for a long, long time.
Granma was and still is a very important woman in my life for tons of reasons. She was the first adult female to allow me (and my female cousins) to join the female rights of passage in her household: sitting and snapping beans on the back porch and talking all afternoon; learning to run the wringer washer and hang clothes on the line while holding clothespins in your mouth and talking about things; plucking, gutting and cutting up chickens for dinner(after they had been caught and had their heads chopped off by Granpa); shelling peas on the back porch and talking about everything; how to retrieve eggs from a hen house without being pecked to death; talking about menstruation without embarassment (something the mothers in my family didn't do well); letting the girls experiment with her make-up under her supervision so we wouldn't look like "trollops"; and best of all, learning from her that it didn't matter who the person was, if they didn't have manners and good behavior, they were 'poor' and needed to be shown good examples of behavior and "comportment". She was also the person who told our parents to hush and let us be kids while at her house; let the grandkids eat any and all food with their hands, spoons only, or whatever struck their fancy because it would be a learning experience about how people in other times and places ate their meals; and who subscribed to National Geographic and talked to us about the bare breasted women and the oddly disguised penises of tribal men that appeared in its pages just because it was good for us to learn more than what was being taught in school. In other words, she was one cool gal! She was a heroine to me. She taught us a lot about being kind by example, by talking to us about odd situations from her childhood, by deed, and by just living her life every day.
It took me a long time to realize then that she was always teaching me in particular, and the rest of the grandkids in general, about "the gift" of being psychic, of knowing when ghosts were around. How to tell if something is spirit or ghost. What's good energy or bad energy. How the land feels. How plants feel. How to listen to the wind and pick things up from it that are unspoken. The memories still come back and teach me now ~ especially because I am working to retrieve them so I can remember those lessons more clearly. Granma S was the Granma who told ghost stories sitting around the patio in the dark. Or, the elder who told stories about her kids growing up and the entities that they drew to the homes in which the family lived, often to the shock and surprise of her husband and grown children. She was quite the lady and one terrific Granma.
And she's just come to whisper to me, "Go to bed child, you need your sleep! It's time to 'close up shop' for now. Get goin'~NOW!" So, with that I'm off to bed, closing up shop for the night and remembering that sometimes psychic teachings come in the quiet things said and observed and remembered later.