Bless Her Heart


My last post about Steel Monkey Bars and the Garden Hose got a few comments from my readers about the other things they remembered from when they were a kid. All of this ‘remember when’ stuff reminded of a post I wrote about something that happened to me when I was a baby. For my new readers who missed this post …. please enjoy:


Another week of Writing Class and another writing assignment connected to our book The Creek by JT Glisson. My homework this week is to write a story about something that happened to us as a child that encouraged us to do something different either in our childhood or as an adult. Well, that was certainly something to think about.

As I sorted through the memories, the thoughts of JT Glisson’s story of his youth kept cycling in my head. I’m sure it was because I’m in the middle of reading his book and just met the man when the teacher invited him to speak to our class.

JT was born with club feet and he wore braces on his legs when he was growing up. He talks about how he went back and forth from Florida to the Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville, SC for the first nine years of his life. It was a different medical world in the ’20’s and 30’s so at the time, this was the only way his parents could make sure he could walk and not end up in a wheelchair.

Even though the folks from Cross Creek lived in the state of Florida, their mannerisms and way of talking reminded me more of the people I know who are raised in the South. From my years of living in Georgia, I learned that you can say just about anything you want about a person as long as you end it with ‘bless her/his heart.’

From listening to JT tell the story, his neighbors and the kids he played with didn’t “treat him with pity” due to his leg braces. They would say something like “JT was a born with trouble in his feet, had a curious streak about him but he did his best to help his family with the work around their land. Bless his heart.”

When I read about JT’s struggles, I figured out what I wanted to write about. When I was young I wore braces on my feet too. I was born pigeon-toed with both of my feet pointing directly inward towards each other. I have a vivid memory of being a small child and kicking my feet against the walls of my grandparents house while I wore those braces on my feet.

I asked my mom for details about what had happened and did I just imagine it. Mom was pretty amazed I remembered this since I was about 18 months old. I always envisioned this as a Forest Gump moment (run Forest run!) but my mom explained to me what my braces looked like. She said it was more like a board with two shoes attached to it. I would put my feet into the shoes and wore the braces at night for over a year so they could straighten my feet out.

No one took photos of me wearing the foot braces so I found something that looks like what my mom described. This a newer version of what I wore as my mom described the board as something that looked more like a skateboard.

My mom told me that I really was kicking the walls. She thought I was just restless in bed and finding it hard to sleep with those things on my feet. I really think it was more than that.

I believe it was the first moment in my life where I was fighting for my rights. I wasn’t too pleased with the situation and without the ability to truly verbalize it, I was going to kick those walls to let them know how I felt.

My grandparents weren’t too happy with the damage I did. Mom said they had to repair the walls and they were hesitant to have me stay with them again until those braces were off my feet. I feel pretty bad about that part.

Guess if my family were Southerns or maybe even from Cross Creek, they would have looked at it differently. They probably would have just said, “Look at what Penney did to our walls. She sure is a strong willed kid with a stubborn spirit. I can only imagine what she can do with her life when she sets her mind to it. Bless her heart.”

13 thoughts on “Bless Her Heart

  1. Penny! I wore that brace!!! And my great grandfather modified my baby swing so that mom could put me in and out without having to take the brace off! Which means I must have worn mine during the day. I have no memory of it, but I’ve seen pictures. 🙂

      • Lol, well, while I’m not obviously pigeon toed, I walk on the outside of my feet, and that hurts my hips, so I am very careful about my shoe choice! Lol. Of course, I live in my Sketcher flip-flops. Those are the best things ever!!

      • Worth every penny – when they are on sale, that is! Just the right amount of cushion and they align you just right. Tone Ups. they don’t tone a darn thing on my body, but I can stand on my feet for hours at a trade show and still be able to walk at the end of the day!

      • I’ll have to go check those out. Every summer I buy what I call my ‘summer shoes’. Because of my feet, I can’t really wear flip-flips or sandals, I need a closed toe shoe but lightweight for the summer. This might do the trick – thanks!

  2. I had a smile on my face when I finished reading this – enjoyed it a lot.
    I think the whole bit about bless his/her heart is funny. I also can imagine baby Penney kicking away. Feisty from the start!

    • I say that expression all the time and most of the times, I don’t realize I’m saying it. Guess you can’t take the Georgia out of the girl even if she lives in Florida 🙂

      And of course my kicking doesn’t surprise you. Some traits we’re just born with and don’t make much sense until we’re adults.

  3. My mom says “bless her/his heart” whenever she refers to the grandkids, who can clearly never do anything wrong. I could say “Mom, Zac was in trouble in school for questioning his religion teacher about something in the Bible. Why can’t he just shut it?!” Mom: “Oh, bless his little heart he’s allowed to have an opinion.” Seriously Penny, I don’t know who this woman is sometimes.
    I remember my friend’s little brother wearing the bar, I aways felt so bad for him. He was a kicker too!

    • My mom is the same way! What’ll be really funny is when we’re grandmas, will do the same thing to our grandkids? I saw this pin that said, “That’s right I’m mean. I’m your mom. If I was nice, I’d be your grandmother.”

      It doesn’t shock me that your friend’s brother kicked too. I really don’t remember the actual feeling but I think it hurt. My feet/toes are still messed up from wearing those things.

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