It wasn’t long before Robert and Bobby came in to find Bessie, apparently at her leisure, with Charles and Charley getting dinner on the table. “Bessie, what in the world’s goin’ on? Why is they cookin’ and you’ a settin?” Robert queried. “Where’s Freddy? I see the truck’s back an’ left the door standin’ open.” Robert wasn’t the type to like seeing his truck door hanging open.
“I got popped with grease frying chicken and Dr. Charles made me set an’ keep a cool rag on it? It’s some better bit it’s still painin’ me pretty good.” She answered. “I thought Freddy went after y’all.”
“No, we ain’t seen him. Howdy, Dr. Charles. I sure hate Bessie had to put you fellers to work. Let me wash up an’ help you finish gittin’ dinner on the table.” Robert was uncomfortable seeing Dr. Charles doing women’s work.
“No, just sit on down. Charley can pour the tea while I check Bessie’s arm and then we can eat.” As he unwrapped the arm, Freddy came up the back steps with an elderly neighbor. Mr. Roscoe was well-known as a natural healer, frequently called in by neighbors to tend burns, stop bleeding, and cure headaches and snakebites.
“Mama, I fetched Mr. Roscoe. Remember how he healed my foot when I stepped in them hot ashes?”
Robert and Bessie looked awkwardly between Dr. Charles and Mr. Roscoe, not wanting to offend either. Seeing the doctor’s open medical bag, the ancient gentleman set them all at their ease. “Looks like there ain’t no need, now. I’ll just get on back to my plowing.”
“Oh no. Don’t leave. There’s more than one kind of healing. The Good Lord gave us all different gifts. It would be a sin not to use them.” He unwrapped the blistered arm for Mr. Roscoe’s inspection.
Bessie sucked in a quick breath as the warm kitchen air hit it. “Ooh! It still hurts purty bad.”
Mr. Roscoe gently cupped his wrinkled old hand over the burn and muttered a few words. When he removed his hand, the redness was gone, though the blister remained. “Now, you need to be sure to keep that wrapped in a clean cloth till that blister goes down.”
“It don’t hurt no more! How did you do that? What did you say?” Bessie asked.
“Just a little prayer. The healing come from God. My daddy had the gift, too.” Mr. Roscoe answered. “I guess I better git back to my plowing, now that’s done.”
“No, no! You gonna stay for dinner. We got to eat up this here fried chicken that tried to cook Bessie.” Robert said. “Freddy, git him a plate and some ice tea while I git another chair.”
As soon as Robert said grace and were through passing the food around, Dr. Charles turned to Mr. Roscoe. “I’ve always heard of faith healing, but never seen it. That burn just faded out and now she has no pain. How does that work? Did you feel something or touch it?”
“I don’t know how it works. I just know it does. I don’t touch it. I just pray over it and see it gittin’ better in my mind. God worked through my daddy, too. I got four brothers and two sisters and ain’t none of them been blessed with the gift. Daddy got it from his grandma. She got it from her mama. There ain’t no way to tell how it goes down. My mama had a headache one day when I was about thirteen. Daddy had tried but couldn’t help her, so he told me to try. Her headache was gone in a minute and never came back, though she’d suffered for years.” Mr. Roscoe explained. “Sometimes the healing don’t happen. It ain’t enough to just want to help. I’ve learned not to try to heal ever’thing I am asked to. If I don’t feel “the nudge,” it ain’t gonna do no good. A few times I have felt “the nudge” and gone when I wasn’t asked. The first time, I woke up about four-thirty one morning and felt pushed to go to Homer Smith’s. He’d just settled in with his family. I hadn’t met him but once after a camp meeting. I felt like a pure fool and didn’t want to go bustin’ in on nobody that time of morning, but I just couldn’t get no peace till I got up and headed over. I figured I could just wait around outside a little bit an’ maybe tell if they was a problem. Sure enough, when I got close, ever’ light was on. I went up to speak to Homer when he come out to smoke just as Miz Presser, the midwife come out. I heared her telling him his Janie was bleeding real bad after the baby an’ they was nothin’ she could do. She said Pore Janie wasn’t gonna last long and that puny little baby probably ain’t gonna make it without no mama to nurse it. They was gonna need the preacher fast. Homer was crying like a baby, hisself. He went back to Janie and I asked Miz Presser if it would be alright to see if I could stop Janie’s bleeding. She asked Homer and he agreed, since they was nothin’ to lose. I prayed over her an’ the bleedin’ stopped right off. That boy is grown now with big ol’ young’uns of his own now. I learned then don’t never say no to “the nudge.”
He paused before going on with his story. “The hard thing is, I cain’t always help folks when things is bad. I always go pray for ‘em, but sometimes I know to just pray for peace and relief of pain. It sure is hard knowing ever’body cain’t be healed. Folks can be awful hurt over that.”
“I feel that, too, Mr. Roscoe. It sure hurts knowing you can’t do anything for a person’s body. All that’s left is to hope you’ve been some comfort to them and the family.