It was October 1962, and we
just experienced in the Northwest what would
later be called, "The Columbus Day Storm." A
severe ice storm with pounding winds damaged
homes and trees alike. The area was a mess.
The wind was finally silent but still
freezing in the air. We had no power, which
meant no heat, and our house was ice cold
with its bare wood floors.
I huddled in my new cotton
nightgown next to my brothers and sisters
while we waited for Dad to light a fire in
the fireplace. He added extra wood to help
the house heat quickly. As he walked away
from the hearth, we all ran to find our
place standing directly in front of the
crackling fire to get warm as quickly as
I had just finished warming
my front side, stretching out my hands to
feel how hot the fire had become, then
turned to warm by backside. Standing there
in comfort, I relaxed for the first time on
that cold morning. Shutting my eyes basking
in contentment of the fire, I was abruptly
brought back to reality. In only a second,
one singular spark flying from the fireplace
caught my gown. Flames instantly ignited the
cotton and the smell of my flesh burning
singed the air.
At the hospital my mom was
told I had third degree burns and extensive
deep tissue damage on the backside of my
left leg. After months of treatment and
daily bandage changes that were the most
painful thing I had ever endured, the doctor
grafted skin off my bottom to my left leg.
Due to the severity and depth of the burn he
predicted, "Melodie will likely have a stiff
leg after her skin graft heals. At the very
best, she'll walk with a limp." My mother
Oh, the agony of healing.
Any movement brought tremendous pain and
walking was out of the question. My pain
threshold could not bear it. I lay on the
couch day after day trying not to disturb my
throbbing leg. Any movement was torture, so
I became an expert at laying still.
My grandma lived in town
and drove daily to our house in the country
to visit me, then back every night, never
missing a day. My Grandmother was poor -
based on government tallies of incomes,
actually extremely poor, I later learned.
Yet she afforded the gas to come to be with
Grandma never accepted the
thought of me walking with a limp or a stiff
leg. She was diligent in her faith and
encouraged me daily, coaxing me to move it.
I loved her so much that I wanted to please
her. I would move my leg with tears in my
eyes, barely handling the pain. Day after
day she came. Then came a day when the pain
was too great to bear, even to please
Grandma. I didn't want to try to walk any
more, period. It just hurt too much. I just
One day after my long siege
of, "No, I am not going to try any more,"
Grandma came with all kinds of quarters. I
don't mean a few. I don't mean a handful. I
mean a bunch of quarters that filled up her
lap. A quarter in 1962 was a lot of money to
a child. Penny candy existed back then. She
wore a housedress, or what she called a
"moo-moo," and placed all those shiny
quarters right there on her lap next to me.
Lying on the couch I could see them. I had
never seen that amount of money ever. It
made me excited. She said, "If you stand up
I will give you a quarter." I wanted a
quarter, so, disregarding the pain I stood
up. Grandma smiled so big and placed a shiny
new quarter in the palm of my hand. I
quickly sat down, the pain throbbing in my
leg. She looked right into my eyes and said,
"There's more where that came from. Do it
again, honey, stand up."
I did it again and she
repeated the reward - another shiny quarter
in my hand. This went on day after day for
months with Grandma. She was faithful and so
determined I would not have a stiff leg and
would walk without a limp. One day I asked
her, "What if you run out of quarters,
She said, "Don't worry
about Grandma running out of quarters honey.
I got all the quarters in the world for
I missed my entire third
grade of school. It had been almost a full
year since the fire when I went back. I
sauntered in the door, walking perfectly. No
stiff leg. No limp. The doctor said, "In all
my years of treating burns I have never seen
a leg heal so completely."
There was an extra bonus -
only a slight minor surface scar instead of
the common deeper skin graft type. Again,
the doctor was amazed. He had me come back
many times to the hospital to show my leg
and demonstrate its use to other doctors.
It wasn't until after my
Grandma died and I was much older that I
realized the gift she had given me. My
mother said, "Your grandmother could not
bear the thought of you limping or walking
with a stiff leg. She willed that leg well
and God heard her."
"And she willed me to
walk," I said. Then I had to ask, "Where did
Grandma get all those quarters, Mom?"
My mother replied, "I
suppose she went without."
In all the years, I had
never considered that. Only then did I
realize the selfless act of love my Grandma
had given me so joyfully. Her daily gifts to
me were actually her sacrifice and her faith
all rolled up inside those silver coins.