G.M. Doesn’t Have Leprosy

By Linda Porter Carlyle

Joseph Anderson Donetti stared at G.M. “You look funny,” he said.

G.M. blinked. “What do you mean?” she asked grumpily.

“Your face is sort of red and blotchy,” Joseph answered. He took a bite of cereal.

G.M. touched her cheek. She scratched it. She scratched her arm too. She pulled up her sweatshirt sleeve and looked at her arm. “Oh, no!” she moaned. “I think I have poison oak!”

Joseph finished chewing and swallowed. “How would you get poison oak?” he asked. “You haven’t been in the woods at all.”

“I know,” G.M. said. “But I went for a walk yesterday, and someone was burning brush in his backyard. He probably was burning some poison oak with it.” She rubbed her leg.

“You aren’t supposed to scratch it, are you?” Joseph asked. He poked the last of his banana in his mouth.

G.M. frowned at him. “No!” she said. She stood up. “I’m going to bed.”

Joseph finished his breakfast and carried the dishes to the sink. He ran hot water and squirted dishwashing soap into it. Might as well wash the dishes, he figured, before he went to see what G.M. wanted him to do for school today.

When the dishes were clean and drying in the rack, Joseph climbed the stairs and poked his head into G.M.’s bedroom.

“Don’t come in here!” G.M. said from the bed. “Poison oak is contagious.”

“I don’t see how you could get poison oak just because somebody was burning it,” Joseph said from the doorway.

“I am very allergic to poison oak,” G.M. explained. “Sometimes I think I can get it just by looking at it. Well, not really that easily,” she admitted, “but almost. I’ve gotten it before from smoke. My eyes even swelled shut that time. I had to stay in bed for a week. It was horrible!”

“Ugh!” Joseph said with sympathy. He leaned against the door jamb. “What do you want me to do for school today?” he asked.

G.M. looked at him miserably. “If you want to know the truth,” she said, “I really don’t care. I just want to lie here and feel sorry for myself. You figure out what you should do today.”

Joseph jumped down the stairs, one step at a time. “7 x 1 is 7,” he whispered on the first step. “7 x 2 is 14,” he said on the second step. There were 12 steps in the staircase. “7 x 12 is 84,” he finished at the bottom. There! That took care of math.

Joseph wandered into the studio. He opened the door of the wood stove and added a piece of dry oak to the coals. He loved the warmth of the wood stove, but the studio seemed strangely cold and empty without G.M.

Joseph saw his Bible and his Sabbath School quarterly on G.M.’s worktable. He picked them up. If he read his lesson, that would be a reading thing for school. He settled into the big overstuffed chair and hung his legs over one arm of it.

Lepers. Leprosy. Joseph stopped reading. He stared at the stove and thought about how the lepers had to live away from their families. They could never touch their husbands, or wives, or children again because leprosy was contagious, and they certainly wouldn’t want to give it to someone they loved.

Joseph thought of G.M. upstairs in bed. Poison oak was a little like leprosy. Except you got over it in a little while. It didn’t last for the rest of your life, thank goodness!

Joseph finished reading his lesson. He thought about how truly happy those lepers must have been when Jesus healed them. He wished there were some way to heal G.M.’s poison oak right away. Suddenly, he had a fabulous idea. He jumped up.

Joseph stopped at the door to G.M.’s bedroom. “Can I please come in?” he asked. “I won’t touch you. But I have something to make you feel better.”

Nothing is going to make me feel better,” G.M. said. “But I guess you can come in if you don’t get near me.”

Joseph walked over to the wall and plugged in the portable radio/CD player. He stood up. “I can pray for your poison oak,” he said. “And you can listen to your favorite praise music and be thankful.”

“And why would I be thankful that I have poison oak?” G.M. asked. She pulled the sheet up under her chin.

“Not thankful that you have poison oak,” Joseph explained. “Thankful that you don’t have leprosy!”

G.M. gave a hoot of laughter. “OK,” she said. “You’re right. I will lie here and praise the Lord that I don’t have leprosy. Thank you for reminding me that there is always something to be thankful about!”

 

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