Did you ever get your fortune told? Have your palm read? Have someone interpret the tea leaves in your cup? I can only say that, living with my grandmother when I was 17 - 19, I used to enjoy having her read the tea leaves in my cup. Grandmother was able to see many things there. “A man will be coming to your door sometime in the next two weeks. It could be the man you will marry,” she’d say with a sly look in her eye. Often she would see packages coming for me, or letters, even telegrams.
Neither of us took these things seriously, but Grandmother Darling did tell me of the time when she was a young woman and went to see a fortune teller, “just for fun,” on a dare from her friends. I can remember most of what the fortune teller told her. First, she would marry a man of Scottish descent, tall with florid complexion, and a cavalry man. They would have four children, the youngest would die in infancy. (How terrible!) The woman also predicted that Grandmother would travel abroad before she died.
The first prediction came true. At the boarding house where she lived while she was a young milliner Daniel Darling came to stay and sat beside her at the dinner table. He was an attorney who dealt primarily with properties, land deeds etc. He was tall, Scottish and had a ruddy look about him.“Did you recognize him as the man the fortune teller had predicted you would marry?” I asked.
“No, not at all. It wasn’t until long after we’d had our four children that I remembered the fortune teller’s predictions. She’d told me I’d marry a man of Scottish descent and a cavalry man. Both true. Daniel had served for a while in the United States Cavalry after graduating from Macalester College and his father had, indeed, come from Scotland. Your mother, Faith, was our fourth child and she nearly died at birth. She weighed only four pounds but she soon got to be a plump and healthy little baby. So that part didn’t come true, thank goodness! If it had, you wouldn’t be here.”
“But Grandmother, you’ve never traveled abroad, have you?”
At that Grandmother smiled and nodded her head no. She never did either and I have wondered if that was a thing she denied herself because of the “before you die,” part of her fortune. Grandmother lived to be nearly 90.
Once when I was going to college and living with Grandmother she suggested I might give a little party for some of my friends. I agreed to do it and planned a small dinner party but then worried about what to do for entertainment afterward. So I borrowed a book of party games from the library. It had a chapter on palm reading and I studied it in case things got dull. One of the boys at my party had been a sailor on the battleship Arizona when it was struck by the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. He’d suffered a concussion that put him in a coma for some time and when he awoke he was unable to remember his name or anything at all about himself. While still in the hospital two or three months later he slipped and fell in the corridor striking his head again. Suddenly his memory returned.
I knew his story but when I read his palm it wasn’t until I saw that his line of the head had a short blank space about a fourth of the way along that I saw the connection. That perfectly blank break in his head line sent a chill up my spine. I let go of his hand and said, “Let’s play another game, shall we?” I wasn’t ready to really believe that stuff and what had started out as entertainment suddenly scared me.
When I later told Grandmother about it she assured me that such things were purely incidental and meaningless. She was an ardent student of the Bible and she said, "I never again had my fortune told." Then she quoted that passage in the Bible where it says we should not “seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter,” but rather look to God for answers to questions we might have about our lives.
Because of Grandmother’s experience with the palm reader though, and the fact that she seemed to leave her mental door cracked open ever so slightly to the mystique, I’ve sometimes wondered if I might take a closer look at palm reading. I could look into it, I suppose, but the same thought always follows those moments of curiosity: “Not now. I have other things to think about.”