On January 6, 1929, a girl child was “born with the veil”.
Folklore that stretches from old Europe to the Louisiana bayou will tell you that a child born with a veil will have the ability to hear and see spirits, and has the gift to foresee the future.
That child of the second sight, was my Grandma Helen, daughter of Anna, who born to the wandering people of Czechoslovakia.
At this point, she’s been gone for longer than she was in my life,
but her spirit lingers,
she would never leave me completely….
a simple thing like death could not separate us.
I connect to her through the threads of things she taught me, through the curves of the letters I write on this page.
She lives in my bones.
In my breath.
In the whispers of the wind that hum with the cadence of her voice.
On this anniversary of her birth, I wanted to share one of my favorite lessons of Magic Grandma Helen here.
When I was small and being picked on at school, my Grandma Helen took me down by the lagoon. We sat on the old dock together, the murky waters just a few inches away from the bottom of my sneakers, as she brushed my hair. She was always fussing with my hair and telling me stories, and I’d sit there hanging on every word.
I remember the sides of the boats slapping against the dock with the rise and fall of the tide.
I remember seagulls gliding like cartoon Vs through the salt water air.
I remember wanting to live under the ocean or with the seagulls in the sky – anywhere but on earth where I felt picked on and lost.
My Grandma continued pulling the brush through my hair and I wished that I could always feel as safe in the world as I did then.
When she was done, we walked back up to her house and she pulled my hair out of the brush. It was like a little puffy cloud of my blonde strands. She put it on the outside window sill and lifted me up to see it.
“That’s your gift to the birds to make their nest with. Watch….”
And we sat down by the dock and waited and watched for what seemed like hours until a little brown bird hopped down and took it in its beak.
My Grandma turned to me and said,
“You stand tall and proud, you hear me? Baby birds are going to sing their first song nestled in your hair.”
I never forgot that.
It made me feel like I was a part of the great mystery of life.
To this day, I leave the strands of my hair out for the birds to build their little homes.
By now, generations of baby birds have grown up singing their songs in my hair.
Each year when I do this, I think of what my Grandma Helen said to me that day down by the lagoon. She left me with so much, and those gifts can be passed on across the world, to all of you who read this.
That way, her story continues….
And she never has to die.
Happy Birthday, Grandma Helen.