God Was A-watchin’ When Dorothy Was A Kid

I don’t put God in a box.  Do you?

I try not to put God in a box when I blog or write poetry or short stories.  That’s because he is such a predominant spiritual presence in my life.  (I believe I inherited his holy presence from my relatives.)  All of my life I have been inundated with stories told to me by my mother and grandmother about how God ‘showed himself’ real and up close and personal in their lives and had often rescued them from hurt, harm and danger inflicted upon them very often by their own careless doings.

Following is a real life story of a tragic event, which was told to the second child born to Dorothy, my mother.  I invite you to read this amazing saga to your children and your children’s children.  Perhaps, you, too, will be inspired to record one of your own true life stories for posterity while at the same time giving God the glory.  Who knows, had Dorothy not been in the loving care of her godly and wise ‘adopted’ mother (and my grandmother) during this episode I might not have been here today.

                                                           When Dorothy Was A Kid                                                             (Sub-title: “Is It ‘Cracklin’, Yet?)

While visiting my mom, Dorothy, in Minneapolis on my birthday in 2001, I overheard her relate a portion of an incident that had happened to her as a child.  Mom was on the phone with one of her many girlfriends and she was laughing and interjecting bits and pieces of this amusing story while at the same time discussing current events.  Mom was in the kitchen standing at the sink, I was seated on the sofa a few feet away.  I had put down the newspaper I was reading and was deliberately eavesdropping on her conversation.  When she finished the call and had hung up the phone, I asked her what she had been talking about and implored her to tell me the whole story concerning her childhood.  It went something like this: 

In 1930, Dorothy was about twelve years old.  Her adopted mother, Kate, (who was also her biological aunt) made skins from the rind of bacon slabs.  At that time skins (or cracklin) were not sold in stores.  Today, they sell for about $1.50 per bag.  Momma Kate would take the rind from a slab of bacon, put it in a large loaf pan and place it in the oven.  It was not an electric or gas oven but a wood burning stove which turned fire-engine red when hot.  Now this stove held its heat all day, but during the night the fire went out and the stove cooled.

The next morning the fire was rekindled and the bacon rind stayed in the oven for another day of cooking.  This went on for about a week.  Cooking, cooling and re-cooking until all the fat grease was extracted from the rind.  Once the rind curled, it was done.  The grease was drained from the pan each day.  As a child, baked bacon cracklin was one of Dorothy’s favorite treats.  So, naturally, every day she asked her Momma could she look at it to see if it was done.  Momma Kate said yes, but to be careful so as not to get burned.

Up until this point, Dorothy was not allowed to pour off the hot grease from the bacon rind.  But one evening the smell of the cracklin and her curiosity got the best of her.  She realized the oven had cooled down and the ends of the cracklin had curled, so she decided to reach in and get the skins out of the oven.  Thinking the wire rack would also be cooled, she took hold of the rack without using a potholder or tee-towel.  It did not glide easily.  Next she grabbed hold of the grease-filled pan and because her fingers were now beginning to burn, she yanked the grease pan towards her and the hot grease splattered out all over the back of her hand and up her arm inflicting fourth degree burns.

Dorothy screamed to high heaven!  Momma Kate, who was a large woman, came running to her rescue.  Dorothy was in such pain that when she saw her mother she ran to meet her and thrust her burned hand under the fat arm pit of her mother and proceeded to rub her hand in a back and forth motion.  Before Momma Kate could calm Dorothy and stop her, all the top skin had been removed from the back of her hand from the wrist to the knuckles.   Dorothy’s hand was white as snow.  Momma Kate yelled for Buckwheat, my grandfather, to run to the drugstore which was about 5 blocks away to buy some sulfur powder which was sold by the pound.  Today you need a prescription to buy sulfur, but back then Buckwheat bought 15 cents worth and hurried home.

Buckwheat’s big foot leaped upon the front porch and his massive hand swung opened the front door.  “Get the sorghum molasses and make a paste with the sulfur, quick”, cried Momma Kate.  Buckwheat hurriedly mixed the concoction and spread a thick portion on the back of Dorothy’s hand while she danced a slow motion quick step.  (Today, a tetanus shot would be required to prevent infection.)  Momma Kate found a clean white muslin sheet and tore a corner from it.  To sterilize it, she took a sad iron, heated it on the wood burning stove and pressed the sheet until it was scorched brown.  Next, she wrapped the sheet around the burn hand and pinned it securely.  Buckwheat made an arm sling out of another part of the sheet and little Dorothy was on her way to mending and very happy.

The next day, Dorothy went to school and because of her dilemma became an instant celebrity with her classmates and teacher, Mrs. Shackelford.  Everyone not only wanted to hear the story, but also wanted to help make Dorothy’s life at school easier.  Surprisingly, the teacher allowed Dorothy to sit at her big desk until the bandages came off.  Momma Kate replaced the dressings each night with fresh bandages.  But best of all, Dorothy’s cousin, Paul, who lived with them, had to do all of her chores until she was 100 percent well.

During the telling of this story, my mother was 84 years old, and the back of her hand bore only faint scares of her childhood burn.  It was because of the home remedies and the wise thinking of my Grandmother, Momma Kate, that my mother’s hand was not grossly discolored.  You see, after two weeks of Dorothy’s hand being bandaged, Momma Kate took red onion husk and boiled them until the water turned red.  Dorothy had to soak her hand in this solution for many days.  This process was thought to be a natural dye and after several applications Dorothy’s skin color turned from speckled white to smooth brown.  Boiled onion juice was also used to dye eggs at Easter time after the water cooled.

It goes without saying that Grandmother Kate gave a lot of praise and thanksgiving to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, during this horrific ordeal.  And I, even at this late date (my mother has since gone on to Glory), want to once again thank my mother, Dorothy, for taking the time to revisit such a treasured event in her life.

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Everyone Has A Story…Those Who Tell The Story Rule Society…So, Who Will Cry When You Die?

As a child growing up, Grandmother Kate was my “Jesus”.  She was always doing things for others.  Yes, she was more influential in my life than either my mother or father. She smelled good, kept a clean house, always cooked delicious and nutritious meals, washed all our clothes in a number 2 tub with a glass wash board, and polished our shoes on Saturday night and laid out our clothes for Sunday School the next day.  Oh, what treasured memories.  I only wish I could connect with heaven and let my loved ones know how much I appreciate what they have done for me.  My only consolation is to pay it forward.  WHO WLL CRY WHEN YOU DIE?

Scripture References:  There are many Bible verses that end with “thy faith has made thee whole” or “thy faith has made thee well”.  For example: Luke 17:19 and Mark 5:34. Per biblical scholars, “Whole” would imply complete restoration of body parts that were eliminated by the disease (i.e. leprosy).  Whereas “well” could imply elimination of the disease and new skin where the missing body parts were. I personally believe my praying Grandmother Kate was exercising her faith in her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to do both for her disfigured child and my mother.  Why?  Because healing happened and my mother’s skin was totally restored and her miracle is being retold down through the fourth generation of my family.  God’s ‘saving grace’ lives on.  Hallelujah!!   

Click http://www.tgifmasterminds.com every Friday for a new post from the Master’s servant manager…ME!     

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