This is a very old picture of my grandparents. Linnie Bell and James Cromwell.
My grandpa passed away. He’d been sick for a long time, but he was a stubborn man and you’d still find him sneaking out onto the golf course behind my parents’ house to find golf balls. The last 24 hours have been rough, so I thought I’d share one of our funnier conversations. I used to write them down because if anything, my grandpa was such a character.
He and my grandmother became Pentecostal Holiness missionaries and grandpa is somewhat famous in those circles as a faith healer. This particular picture of them is unusual–had to have been before grandma threw away her makeup and grandpa… well, he never really stopped greasing back his hair. <g>
Oh and he thought it was funny that I called him Reverend Grandpa, so that’s how he’ll be here.
This phone call was a few years ago–right before he came here to stay with his kids. Oh, and he called me…
“Well there you are. Been leavin’ messages. What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing that I know of. Feel good in fact. I wish you wouldn’t worry.”
“I’m not worried, I’m concerned.”
“What is God telling you this time?”
“Don’t know exactly. He’s been gabbing at me for weeks about you– got bad the last coupla days.”
“Well, maybe God is worried about my hand because I’ve been using a mouse so much and hurt it.
“By God, put out a trap and catch that thing!”
“Very funny, grandpa. Or maybe he’s worried about the canker sore I got from tripping and biting through my lip.”
(He proceeds to start praying for my canker sore. Tells the devil to mind his own business and get his poison out of my mouth.)
Grandpa coughs after the enthusiastic prayer. “That canker is probably because of the “equitous of the mortiburn and the emphazudi of the peranim.”
“Uh, yeah. Maybe that’s it.”
(My grandfather has been saying this phrase since before I was born. He will not tell anyone what it means or even how it’s spelled. I probably got it all wrong. )
“I’ve been in the hospital,” grandpa says.
“No one told me. Are you okay?”
“That cancer is active again. God took it out of my throat in 1951 and the devil keeps trying to slip it back in other places. I’m not worried cause God always takes it back away and there’s nothing more fun than makin’ the devil mad.”
“Do you need us to come get you?”
“No. Linnie Bell is with me all the time now.” (Linnie Bell had passed away fourteen years before at this time.) “I told her to go ahead and get someone to mow the grass at our heavenly house on the corner of Hallelujah, Glory and Divine Street. I have a corner spot, you know, and a living room for squirrel hunting.”
“You plan to hunt squirrels IN your living room?”
“Sure. Squirrel meat is the finest you’ll ever taste. You know, girl, a squirrel once told me I was nuts. I just told him he was delicious.”
“Grandpa, you aren’t eating squirrels are you?”
“Can’t catch em. Nah. I eat tamales every day. Made a fresh batch of fourteen yesterday. Did you know my esophagus collapsed?”
“Maybe it’s from the tamales.”
“Nah. If I make em too hot, I just take my teeth out.”
Silence on my end. Huh?
“Sometimes I just eat tamale spread.”
“Are you making that yourself, too? What’s in it?”
“Stuff. Got tomatoes and olives and stuff. Did you know I only weigh 140 pounds now? I lost over a hundred pounds. I can stick a whole pumpkin in the front of my pants.”
Silence from me on that one.
“People are calling me to preach but I’m too weak. You know my teeth fell out one time right in the middle of a sermon. They fell in a pile of sawdust. I just picked them up and put them back in. Told folks they’d been anointed. Ever try to preach with a mouthful of sawdust?”
“Can’t say that I have, grandpa.”
“It’s not fun.” He started coughing. “I sold some machines and was too weak to carry them into the place.”
“Maybe the pumpkin in your pants was in the way.”
Silence on his end.
“You still selling those old check writing machines?” I ask, afraid I’d offended him. Should have known better.
“Yep. I have a hundred or so left. I’m too old to go sellin’ them tho. Can’t carry them, tho… cause… heh heh, you’re pretty funny. Did I ever tell you I liked math? I liked it cause it reminded me of money. Did I tell you the offerings have been poor lately. I’d like to have a Coke, but I’m too poor. Can only afford Pepsi at the Shop n’ Save.”
He pauses… “So, you guys doing okay? Have enough to eat?”
“Yes, grandpa, we’re good.”
“Well, I’m worried. I have this food I want to send. It’s food I can’t eat anymore.”
“Seriously grandpa, we’re good.”
(He will send food. Weird food. The man lives on tamales. He’s in his late eighties and still eats them hot every day. I’m afraid of food he can’t eat.)
“You got a website, grandpa, so I can show my friends how good looking you are?”
“I am, aren’t I? Can’t help that, you know. Can’t help being good looking. Course, I’m losing my hair.”
“So Uncle Ray hasn’t made you a website?”
“He’s gettin’ old, too. That Inter-thing won’t come here. I need a website. Maybe I should move.”
“We keep saying you can come here. We’d love to have you here.”
“Yeah, but I got Ray here. I’m gonna let you go now. I’m tired and my throat hurts.”
“Go get some water. I love you, grandpa.”
“Love you, too. So,do you want the two or five dollar prayer now?”