If you’ve never delved into your family history, let me tell you, “it’s a ride like no other!” It’s fascinating to learn about what makes you… YOU! So many people contributed to our existence in this world and, for good or for ill, I think it’s important to recognize them and offer thanks.
My great-grandmother on my mother’s side was known as “O’Ma.” Her name was Margaret, but everyone – including non-related kin-folk – just called her “O’Ma.” Her life spanned the latter part of our 19th century and the first half of the 20th. As was the custom of that time, O’Ma was the local mid-wife and healer for her small coastal community.
O’Ma wasn’t your run o’ the mill mid-wife, though. Her gifts were… special. She was special; and I have only begun to discover in the last few years how she passed along many of her special gifts to me.
My sister recently sent off a DNA test to determine our genetic makeup on my mother’s side of the family. There have always been hushed rumors afloat that we have Native American blood in our veins. But nobody ever wanted to talk about it or fess-up to it. Why? I’d be ecstatic to learn I’m at least partially Native American! That would be oh-so super-cool, would it not! Of course, it’s not a stretch to believe it, looking at a few of my kinsfolk. The traits are definitely there: the dark eyes and skin (when exposed to the sun), strong cheek bones, thick dark hair, etc.
Side note: as a child I had an inexplicable fascination with Native American stories. I devoured every book I could get my hands on from my various school libraries about “Indians” (as they were called back in the day). Through this self-education, I gained a great respect for our Native American brothers and sisters and still grieve for their plight under the early white man’s rule. I guess it’s time to let that one go, huh?
With regard to my mother’s genetic makeup: Turns out that I am oh-so super-cool! Yes! My dear mother is about a quarter Native American, giving my sisters and I about half that-ish Native American ratio. (Whatever that works out to be.) If we had only known this during our university years we could have scored a few grants! — Drat.
This would make O’Ma, my mother’s grandmother, 100% Native American – of the “Tuscarora Nation,” to be exact. As far as we’ve been able to determine, she was adopted by my great-great grandparents – her age at the time is unknown – after her family and most of her tribe died of a smallpox epidemic. How I would so love to hear more of that story!
Where she learned her healing arts, no one knows. Perhaps she was old enough when they adopted her that she had already learned quite a bit from her natural mother? Or perhaps, as I have found, there was always something of genetic knowledge and spiritual gifts at work in her life. Or maybe a bit of both? However she learned her healing art, she was very good at it.
How fortunate am I that my mother remembers O’Ma! While tight-lipped about many things, I think my mother admired and respected her grandmother. O’Ma had the gift to “talk fire away.” If someone acquired a burn, whether by heat, light or chemical, O’Ma would mutter over the burned area until the pain went away. It’s unclear as to whether the burn itself healed as a result of this, or if she treated it with the wide variety of healing herbs she grew in her garden.
As a midwife, she was oft’ sought… actually the only one sought for this purpose and was well-renowned for her gifts there as well. As people didn’t speak of such things in those days, we have precious little in the way of stories or documentation as to her methods; only that she was “oft’ sought” at all hours of the day and night. And that she kept her “midwife’s bag” at the ready at all times, never knowing when a call may come.
O’Ma was born, lived and died long before I ever made it into this world. I’d like to think we crossed paths somewhere in the pre-mortal realm. She might have said something like, “Oh honey, if you only knew what you’re getting yourself into! But don’t worry, it’ll all work out eventually.” I’m sure with a momentary gulp, I blissfully dismissed her foreboding as “superstitious nonsense,” and went whistling along my merry way. I’m wishing I’d taken the time to chat with her about it.
Maybe I did just that? I only say this because recently, I’ve been made aware of a few special gifts of my own that I’ve ignored most of my life. Everyone has gifts. EVERY-ONE. I believe that not one person is devoid of their own unique set of talents and gifts to use as they will. Some of us just ignore them, or choose not to use them for a time. Thank goodness I finally found mine again.
I figure there was a fairly potent reason why I wanted to be a doctor all through my childhood. No one else in my family is… except O’Ma. Even as a very small child, I felt the stirring in my soul: the desire to help and to heal. But an even greater gift than that is the ability to do so. This is O’Ma’s gift to me.
I used to scoff at the term, “genetic memory,” ranking it up there with mysticism and reincarnation. But having experienced a bit of these inexplicable abilities myself, and having read up just a tad on Carl Jung’s “collective unconscious” theory, I don’t scoff anymore. Rather, I live in a constant state of gratitude for the blessings I enjoy and do my best to share these blessings with others.
You know what? I’ll bet O’Ma never used a syringe in her entire life. And now it all makes sense!