The Willows Weep
The Willows Weep
(In loving memory of my grandmother Clarisse)
I have never written a short story before, and perhaps should have left 'well enough' alone, but being of the belief that one should not say 'I cannot' unless one has and could not, I will put pen to paper in this endeavor. As I search for the hidden treasures in my life, there is one whose memory keeps insinuating itself upon other remembrances, like a ticking clock that only grows louder at three a.m. I suspect that the heroine of my memory is the culprit but that would be another story.
A heroine. My grandmother would blush and then, not so politely, dismiss such words as a 'Cajun joke with no back end.' But to those who knew 'Taunte Clarisse,' as she was affectionately known, she was even more than a heroine. To me, she was just my 'ma mere'-a grandmother who loved me and had a very special place in her heart for her youngest grandchild.
And as the willows bend but breaking not
With branches weeping strength's charade
She stood tall among the cypress brutes
A quiet spirit's impressions made
Uneducated in the true definition of literacy, yet possessing a wealth of knowledge that often amazed me, she spoke a form of broken English that is common among those of Acadian descent. I soon learned that she understood English quite well and I, on the other hand, comprehended the singsongy language of the Creole French. Conversations where each spoke in comfort were many and although confusing for others, we never seemed to notice the oddity of it. Thinking back now, there is so much I should have asked but didn't. Children and even young adults do not acknowledge mortality, especially of those we love most dearly.
'Ma mere' was a midwife and a 'treateuse', a healer of faith and herbal medicine. Her days of midwifery were over before even my earliest recollections, for yours truly was her last delivery. I believe this is why we were so very close over the years, like the last seed you plant and then watch grow into maturity. And watch me, she did! But I watched too! I learned about humility, honesty, and respect from this tiny lady whose hands were blessed with the gift of healing.
Hands that held the gift of life
In humble respect of blessing given
Secrets kept of ancient lore
Upon the chosen's soul 'tis written
I know some scoff at the idea of faith healing and that is neither here nor there. It was the herbal medicine that was the actual healer; the hands were merely the ministers of such. She knew this and never claimed that she could perform miracles; but she was gifted with the ancient knowledge of herbs. As was the custom, nothing of the secrets was written for reference. The recipes were inscribed upon her soul and kept safe in her heart. Salves and teas, purges and lotions, each had their purpose and significance; yet, together, they were a collection of treasures, hidden promises from those who came before. Tradition deemed that the gift be passed onto the chosen one just as the ancients had done. Time and fate determined this was not to be. Even now after so many years have come and gone, I wonder why she kept these treasures hidden so well. Perhaps the burden of growing old became too much. Or perhaps the burden of the gift itself caused her uncertainty and concern for the chosen one.
Her last days were spent in the sleep of near-death with only wisps of consciousness. I never doubted that she knew who came to say their good-byes for each left a tear upon her cheek. Oddly, I was the last of the grandchildren to approach her bedside but in retrospect, I'm sure fate had deemed it be so. Clasping her hand in mine, I bent to kiss her paper-thin wrinkled cheek and felt the whisper of one word against my own. 'You' was all she said but I knew without being told the significance of that one word. An aunt standing nearby brushed a tear from my cheek and nodded. A few hours later, 'Ma mere' passed away and with her last breath, her gift of healing was lost forever and the ancients wept their tears of sadness.
As the willows weep their lingered tears
The ancients sorrow in finality
Hidden treasures now withered and dead
Lost to the secrets of eternity
One final thought...
I miss her
and the willows still weep.
submitted into the Anything Goes challenge
By Myrna D.
© 2012 Myrna D.
(All rights reserved)