I was astonished, and felt weak inside. I couldn’t imagine what Dr. Wendy could tell me that might impact our long-term relationship. I stood before her riveted to the ground until she urged me to sit beside her on the porch. The seat was a rocker, together we rocked back and forth the night air refreshing after the heat of the day. She took her time as if she was seeking for the right words; then she spoke,
“My first secret is my heritage.” She handed me a small framed photograph. “Look at this picture of me with my parents. My mother is Caucasian and my father black. By some fluke, I inherited my mother’s looks and so most people see me as a gringo. That’s fine by me but know that if I were ever to have children they might well inherit my father’s looks. They would be handsome but not white. Some people couldn’t live with this thought. I want you to think about it.”
Wendy’s secret surprised me and I soon bid her “good night”. I walked slowly down the hill to my apartment. I regard myself as open-minded, especially as my mother is Hispanic and father very white American; but I was surprised to find myself hesitating with an uncomfortable admission that I wondered what friends and family would say. I’m glad that these foolish thoughts were soon eclipsed by my yearning for ‘my Wendy.’ By the time that I reached my apartment door I was singing for I had determined that I didn’t care about Wendy’s heritage. Skin color didn’t matter what I wanted was Wendy in my future. That hurdle vanquished, I spent the night speculating what on earth Wendy’s second secret could be.
The following day dragged slowly as I counted the hours, then minutes and finally seconds to the time when we’d be together again. When I finally walked up to her door she emerged looking the most alluring that I had ever seen her. She wore a loose wrap-around dress. On her neck hung the same magnificent amulet that I’d seen that first evening with her. She poured us lemonade made, she told me, from lemons off the tree in her garden. It was sweet with a tart overtone and most refreshing. Again, we sat side-by-side on her patio slowly sipping our lemonade and gazing out into the night. She touched my hand and spoke,
“My second secret is my healing power. I explained to you about body, mind and spirit, that’s my secret. I administer to the mind and activate it to heal the body.”
I took a gulp and tried to be calm as I knew that I was about to hear her second secret. I asked,
“But how? How did you acquire this skill, this mind activation? You are going to tell me that it wasn’t in medical school, right?”
“Yes, you are right, it wasn’t in medical school!” She paused, it was her turn to gulp, “Have you ever heard of a witch doctor?”
I wondered where this was going and nodded, then seeing her look of surprise felt foolish and shook my head,
After a moment’s silence she spoke again, “People always quote stories about debilitating spells cast by witch doctors, but in reality, most of their work in their community was to heal not to cast evil spells. Often they were very effective.”
Wendy had my attention, I murmured “Yes!”
“Now think how powerful one could be if one could combine the knowledge and skill of modern medicine with the ancient powers of the witch doctor and then overlay it all with a Christian message.”
“Well, I learnt the skill of a witch doctor from my father who got it from his father all the way back to Africa.”
She paused and took off her amulet. She handed it to me. It was smooth and heavier than I expected. I looked at it closely and saw that it was covered with hierographics and miniature images of plants and animals. I gently ran my fore-finger across its surface. Dr. Wendy smiled,
“The symbol of the power is in this amulet. It is my second secret. It has always been in our family passed down from generation to generation. It dates back to a time in Africa when my many-greats-ago-grandfather was a Juju man, or witch doctor. I always wear it when I heal, generally I wear it hidden under my clothes, You, apart from my mother who was Caucasian, are the first white person to touch it.”
That evening I e-mailed my ‘Honduran Healers’ story to Carl together with my resignation. I’d have to return to the US to wrap things up but I now knew where my long-term future lay. The third night was to be the start of my new life.