Welcome to my world - The world of Tish

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Shlinga Shlinga and other new words

Three years of my life were spent in nursing homes. No, not as a resident, but as either the staff physical therapist or as rehab director. In that time, I have seen the best and worst in people. Sex, drugs, rock and roll, it's all there in the cinderblock buildings housing the elderly of our country. Forget your soap operas and spend a day at a nursing home. You will walk away astounded and enlightened.

My favorite story is one that I am currently exploring in Rocks of Ages, the second novel that is sure to be a winner after A Month Full Of Sundays is picked up by some insightful editor (kissing sounds can be heard from my direction at this time).

My first day on the job a black woman with an AKA (above the knee amputation) rolled into the therapy room. One eye was clouded, the other intent on studying my every movement.

"You gonna be the new therapy gerl?" Strong southern accent from such a petite frame.
She spit into a plastic cup something brown. "Got any paper?"

"Paper for what?"

She snatched the roll of toilet paper from my empty desk. "What kind of paper? Jesus, gerl!" She wiped her mouth out and tucked the cup away at her side for future use. I don't know about you, but where I come from women don't dip.

Her eyes landed on my wedding photo. "Oohwee, you gotta a big ole man, dontcha?" She fingered the silver frame and a smile spread across her smooth, dark face. "He gotta a big shlinga shlinga?" Her right index finger made measurements up and down her left wrist.

It took me a minute to realize she was asking about my husband's "Size". When I didn't answer, she laughed. "Sugar, my man had a great big one and liked to show it- oohwee, did he ever."

On another occasion, she hollered at a passing CNA (certified nursing aide):
"Your pachankas are just bouncing all over the place - go bind those things up!" And she was right since the triple D breasts were a sight for all to see.

"I'll beat the pieces offa you!" This became my favorite phrase when angry.

"Fricafracs" labelled the lazy CNA, the loud CNA, or the insolent CNA that refused to do her bidding.

She had the ability to begin any song and eventually weave the songs Rocks of Ages or Amazing grace into the chorus. To this day, I cannot hear those songs without crying and thinking of her.
She told me she was 'gonna stay here to see my daughter born, then she was going home to Jesus'. And she did. Six weeks to the day of my daughter's birth, Miss Tennera died in her sleep with her spit cup by her bed and a picture of her holding my baby.

I cried more than the family that day. My husband and I were the only white people at the funeral but you would have thought that Miss Tennera had given birth to me the way her family responded to us.

Somewhere in Heaven, Miss Tennera is enjoying a dip of Sweet snuff, listening to gospel music, and shaking her 'thang' with two perfect legs.


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