Earlier this month, I was given the opportunity to guest on the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance Writers blog . Here is my article on the Best Advice I’ve ever Received… Enjoy and please check out FF&P here: http://www.romance-ffp.com/
When I was little, I had this weird habit of sucking my index and middle fingers the way most kids suck their thumbs. It was a bizarre habit that stayed with me well into kindergarten until one Thanksgiving, my mother offered to paint my nails and informed me that if she did, I could no longer suck my fingers. Believe it or not, it worked.
But that is completely off topic.
This is about the best advice I ever received, not my odd habits and idiosyncrasies, but that little quirk plays a major role in this story.
As I said before, I sucked my fingers and used that as a reason not to speak. It’s not that I couldn’t, I just wouldn’t because, well, in all honesty, I never had to. My nods, grunts, gestures and giggles were perfectly understood by all those around me. I could point to something and my mother, aunts, uncles, cousins all knew what I needed or wanted without me taking those two fingers out of my mouth.
That is, everyone except my paternal grandmother known to all as Ms. Delores. She was smart, funny, caring, and honest and my very best friend until the day she died. She was my babysitter, confidant and the one person who was on my side not matter what.
Now, don’t get me wrong, she was great, but she was unflinchingly honest and told me exactly what she thought about my behavior. When she thought I was acting like a spoiled brat, and I could, she would tell me in no uncertain terms that I was being a jackass. Over the years, she gave me lots of advice, mostly during my pre-teen and teen years. Those hard years when your parents don’t quite know what to do with you and you don’t know what to do with yourself. When you’re body rebels and boy did my body rebel. By the time I was twelve I was five foot seven, with a 36 D bust and muscular thighs. I was black Barbie and I had no idea how to handle that body with the geeky, nerdy brain that rattled around in my head.
“Biggums,” She called me that because she said she could hear me coming through the house like a freight train, a ‘big’un’. “You’re going to be who you are and nobody can change that. Don’t let people think you’re less than you are. No matter your size, you skin color or the kink in your hair, you’re beautiful and you’re smarter than you let people know. God made you the way you are for a reason, don’t let anyone tell you any different.”
That stuck with me and formed who I am but… that’s not the best advice she ever gave me.
Back to the fingers.
I would stand beside her as she cooked in heavy cast iron skillets on her old gas stove in her shotgun house all the time. This particular day, I stood watching her chop something thick and white then put a piece into her mouth and chew. She looked down at me and asked, “You want some?” With fingers securely between my lips, I nodded.
She handed me a slice, a thin sliver and I greedy removed my fingers and took a big bite. Then I spit it out and looked at her with tears stinging my eyes.
“You thought it was an apple, didn’t you?” She asked and again I nodded. “Well, if you never take those finger out of your mouth and use your voice you’re going to get more of that. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and say how you feel or else …sometimes… you’ll get onions.”
And that was the best advice I’ve ever received.