The light blue irises that floated in her watery eyes brought me to thoughts of lily pads floating on a pond, and like the lily pads I had an urge to touch them, or maybe to drop into the water like the fairies do and swim in their depths. She was a small woman who seemed to disappear into small spaces – keeping herself out of sight. Yet, I knew she saw everything and knew everything including things that most people never know. You see, my Grandmother was a witch.
My Grandmother lived in Brooklyn in a brick house, right next door to the boxer Rocky Graziano. On weekend nights, when I stayed with my Grandmother, the noises from Rocky’s parties found their way into Grandmother’s house, Grandmother would stick her head out the window, and strangely her soft voice carried through the night air as she calmly instructed Rocky to simply “Keep Quiet, Rrrrrocky!” The R’s always trilling their way over the driveway to Rocky’s house.
One day Rocky appeared at the door begging, “Grandma please, my house is infested with ants. Please come over and get rid of them,” (you see everyone knew of Grandmother’s powers). She filled her bag with things, and took my hand, and over to Rocky’s we went. She took out something that looked like chalk, and she walked around the house in two directions drawing a line around its base and muttering some sounds as I walked beside her. Then she said: “Rrrrrocky, get rid of the ants in your house and none will ever cross your door again, and remember keep the noise down or else…”
Years later, when I announced that I was pregnant, Grandma came to my house, placed a chair in the center of the kitchen, sat me in it, and drew out some objects that looked like gourds. She told me to bite the ends of each to make sure I had a male child. And so I did; I had a son. And anyone in the family who didn’t bite the gourd had a female child.
And Grandmother used to strangely disappear. Once my Aunt followed her to a cemetery. Now my Aunt knew that two of Grandmother’s children had died in childhood, and she and my Grandmother had visited the graves together. But this was an unknown cemetery. My Aunt followed Grandmother to two graves where Grandmother stopped and knelt. When she rose my Aunt confronted her. Seems my Grandmother had given birth to twins that died at birth – the umbilical cord wrapped around their necks. Grandmother said it was a family curse. But, luckily, she had lifted the curse and had it transferred. Years later a relative on the other side of my family gave birth to stillborn twins, the umbilical cords wrapped around their necks.
And no one in the family has a photo of Grandmother that’s in focus – all show her as if encased in a haze – or is it an aura?
And when I crossed the Pacific to live far away, my Grandmother cautioned me that, if I learned that she was dying I must promise to come to her to receive the Power that was to revert to me. And I promised I would.
And when I learned that Grandma was dying I was unable to keep my promise.
And do I believe in all I’ve just written down from memories distorted by time?
Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.