Grace From Tennessee

We went to the counter to pay for our purchases.  We waited patiently while the lady behind the counter helped the couple in front of us.  The woman of the couple kept walking away while the lady behind the counter kept talking to the man of the couple.  The lady behind the counter seemed to be enjoying herself interacting with the customer.

It was quite a few minutes before we could approach.

It was then that we got to meet Grace.

She took our items and carefully wrapped them.

She spoke in such a friendly manner and with such a distinct dialect I knew she was not from ‘here’.   I asked her where she was born.

Tennessee.

I knew it.

She went to school in a one room school house.  She and her siblings and parents worked hard.  Momma used to go to the store about three times a year.  Shoot, I know people now who go three times a week.  They grew, or raised, all of their food.  She told us how momma used to make all of their clothes, or most of them.  And how they used to dig a cave in the side of a hill, line it with grass and hay, and then burlap sacks.   They could then store turnips, fall cabbage, apples and potatoes in that hill.

By now I was leaning on the counter, elbows down, face in my hands.  Mesmerized by her stories.

She doesn’t like apples.  Not after all the time they spent preparing apples for drying.  I asked her what she would do if someone gave her a piece of apple pie, she wouldn’t like the pie.  She just can’t like an apple.  Well, she can try a honey crisp apple, raw, every great once in awhile.

At one point it dawned on me that we were in a store and I glanced behind me.  I was relieved no one was standing behind us in line because I was enjoying her so much.

She told us how her teacher, Mr. Black, made her stand at the chalkboard for 3 days to work out a math problem.  This wasn’t a punishment for three days,  this was an encouragement for her to work that problem until she resolved it.  I asked her if she did.  She said she did. Grace started to cry.  Her tears were for the recollection of a good teacher and a good effort on her part.  When she graduated high school, over 50 years ago, she received a $5000 scholarship to go to college.   For math.  It would have paid for her 4 year program.  She didn’t accept it.  But she said that’s what he did for her.  She said she always went back to visit him.  She was grateful for all he had taught her.

We talked and listened some more.  She told us about Pigeon Forge and what it used to look like.  And how, when she lived there, there was one building.

I was quite content, standing there at that counter, listening to Grace from Tennessee.

I heard shuffling behind us.  Turned, and was disappointed, to see customers behind us.

We finished the business part of our day.  Grace took my hand in hers.  We thanked one another.

We went out to my car at the far end of the parking lot.

I got in.

Drove back up to the store.

I walked in to the store where Grace from Tennessee was standing behind the counter.  She smiled when she saw me.  I told her again that I was glad to have met her.  I gave her a small gift.  I told her she made my life better today.

She took my hand again, and said I did the same.

 

60 thoughts on “Grace From Tennessee

  1. Dear Colleen, you’re like a “good people magnet”, and every time you tell us one of these beautiful human nature stories, I do cry, tears of liquid joy, for both you, and this case, your lovely Grace from Tennessee, and “both of you”, remind so much of our generous Lady xx

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  2. love these kinds of days and interactions – it is what life is all about – relationships – new and old and everything in between. what a lucky girl you were that day you met grace from tennessee

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    • I really did feel lucky Jodi. My friend and I kept talking about Grace the rest of our day together. I loved her voice, her story. It was “just” her life. And she seemed to love it so much. That made it so endearing to me.

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    • Well, with her very first pay check she had electricity installed in her mother’s home, her second paycheck she bought her mother a refrigerator. Her 3rd paycheck, she purchased an electric stove. When her mother told her she wasn’t sure if she wanted an electric stove Grace told her momma when the snows hit and she didn’t have to go out and get wood out of the snow to cook on any more, she’d sure like it then! 🙂

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  3. To meet genuine people like Grace is a treat, too bad it’s a rarity. Sharing this encounter with your girlfriend was pretty special too. Something I’m sure you will reminisce about often.
    The math problem touched me. Just think how much good it would us all if we saw having to do something difficult as encouraging instead of punishment.

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    • I can just imagine her struggling over that problem for 3 days. But he wouldn’t let her give up. She said that’s what he did for her, what he taught her. What a gift. And what a gift she was for sharing that.

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  4. Colleen, I wonder if I’d have been so patient! And if not, I would have missed out on a very special encounter. You stand as a good reminder of what listening to someone else can create in a reciprocally “genuine” sharing. How special for you both!

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    • We were enjoying a day ‘out’ and off of work. Celebrating my friend’s birthday. So it was all working well together to keep me patient and pleased to spend extra time. 🙂

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