She had that look she gets when her mind flies at the speed of lightning and zaps memories from her early life. Half the time I don’t know if she’s making ‘em up or not, but they’re always entertaining.
Momma put a rocker in our tiny kitchen that just fit Miss Henrietta’s bones, as she put it. We’d been talking about Halloween and pumpkins and making money to buy things like pumpkins and costumes.
Explaining who Miss Henrietta is, is difficult. First I thought she was the Woodsy-Witch, then she became a friend, and now, although she’s not blood kin, we declare her as family. When Momma is at work or the weather is bad, she stays at our house to help look after me and my brother.
Miss Henrietta rocked slowly and looked up at a cobweb in the ceiling corner, then she turned to me with a look of duck-like purpose. That’s like a duck staring at a Junebug it’s about to eat.
“Lil, I’m proud of you for turning your mood around and figuring out how to buy a pumpkin.. rather than bemoan the fact that somethings cost money we may not have. It made me think about the Autumns when I was about your age.”
I complained that looking at her gray hair and wrinkles I could tell that she NEVER could have been my age. That wisecrack earned me a half-hearted stink-eye. She threw that look across the room and hit me square on my giggling-triggering button.
With pretended elegance, she added, “May I continue, Miss Lillian A. Bohannan aka Lillian the Fearless?”
I gave my approval by nodding and waving a spoon covered with pumpkin goo.
“As I was saying, WHEN I was about your age, the world was very different in some ways and very much the same in other ways. My people believed that there was a day every year in late October when the here-after and the right-now could touch.”
My skeptical look urged her to go on with her tale.
“The gypsies, as you called my Romani people, said that the people who had died could reach through to those still alive and vice versa.”
“That’s just too spooky, Miss Henrietta. Yuck.” I got chills and made an eyes-wide wrinkled-nose face.
“Well, Child, let’s think about it for a while. My dear husband died, he crossed over, but I’d love to have him wrap me up in his arms at least one day a year. Heck, I’d even cross over momentarily to feel that hug and hear his Scot laughter.
“And I told you about my wonderful grandmother with her bare feet and long skirts. Well, little could make me happier than to sit and talk with her again.” She smiled and covered her mouth for a minute in private thought.
“So, to your comment about SPOOKY, it’s like most things on this darn crazy planet, Lil. Halloween might remind you of skeletons and ghosts—-while I think about my happiest memories of my beloved family. You still look a bit puzzled.“
After a minute or two, she added, “Try this out. A fox and a human see a baby rabbit. Do they see the same thing? The answer is “Yes and no”. The fox sees a meal and the human sees a fuzzy adorable creature.”
I told Miss Henrietta that she’s always doing that to me, making me think differently. I’m still not sure I like the spooky stuff.