By Veronica

I was five years old, and full of awe for my grandfather. He loved me with an overflowing heart, claiming me for a grand-daughter when we were not blood kin. He was a farmer, with calloused, toughened hands, hands so tough he wiggled his fingers and let the dog nip them for fun as they walked to the barn.

I was sitting in the breezeway, the cool part of a house without AC, in one of my grandma’s white wicker chairs. Grandpa came inside and showed me his thumb, swollen and purple under the nail. He had smashed it in something, some farm equipment. He spoke cheerfully, chatting to me as he looked for a straight pin. He found it and lit a flame. I watched while he heated the pin in the flame until it was red hot, then pressed the hot pin against his thumbnail.

(Tsss!) the pin said. There was the smell of smoke.

It cooled quickly. He heated it up again.


I watched, fascinated.


“Grandpa! Grandpa! Doesn’t that hurt?”



The pin burned through, and Grandpa swung his hand hard through the air with a sound that wasn’t a word. He never cursed, at least not in front of his grand-daughter. The blood was gone from behind the nail. There was no more purple, no threat of infection. The finger was clean, and able to heal. He did what was necessary, and I never knew how much it hurt.

I still want to be like him.

Originally posted at Toddled Dredge.

5 Responses to Saintliness
  1. Tonggu Momma
    September 23, 2008 | 7:13 am

    Veronica – This brought back memories of my grandfather. He was a carpenter. Thank you. It was beautifully written.

  2. Louise
    September 24, 2008 | 4:37 pm

    My grandmother was the same way. She still is.

  3. Mo
    September 24, 2008 | 11:42 pm

    This is beautiful. You just said so much with so few words.

    Such a sweet memory, and such a powerful message. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Libby Wong
    November 12, 2008 | 7:07 pm


  5. zyzz
    April 16, 2012 | 2:00 am

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