Monday, March 9, 2009

The Tooth Fairy

Grannie and me the day after the tooth fairy came.

I know three little girls who are keeping the tooth fairy mighty busy lately. Number one is getting extractions so she will be ready for braces, number two is loosing teeth on a daily basis, number three had extractions but hasn't lost any naturally but the tooth fairy was extra special to her for being brave at the dentist. (Number four is still chewing her fist trying to cut teeth.) They have a piggy bank full of money from the tooth fairy. Waking up to tooth fairy money under a pillow is always a special morning.

One morning many many years ago in 1954 the tooth fairy found me even though I was not at home. I was spending the night at my great grandmother's house near Detroit AL. My "Grannie" was Martha Jane Palmer Ballard. She was born October 20, 1870. So at this time she would have been eighty four years old. No little children had lost a tooth at her house in a long long time so when I lost my tooth right at bed time I just knew the tooth fairy would never find her house. She washed my tooth and wrapped it in one of her daintiest starched and ironed Sunday handkerchiefs and put it under my pillow anyway. Mother and I slept in the front room that night right by the front door. I just knew I would hear the tooth fairy if it opened that door. I remember Mother telling me to not be disappointed if the tooth fairy didn't find me way up there because we lived in Smithville MS and it would probably come the next night when we got home. She hadn't planned on us spending the night there much less me loosing a tooth.

Grannie always had a canary that sang constantly from daylight until dark and it woke me the next morning singing it's heart out. Grannie was already up and fixing breakfast. I could see her from where I was laying. She specialized in poached eggs and I loved them because at her house was the only time I got them. She had the water boiling but turned it off the minute she saw I was waking up. I reached under my pillow and there in that Sunday handkerchief was a shiny dime! Mother was as surprised as me. Grannie looked at her and winked. She said for us to come look out by the front steps. She had already been out there and seen something that we just had to go see. Mother and I went out on the porch following her. There in the sand were all the foot prints that the tooth fairy had made when it stopped to rest after the long trip up there hunting me. There were foot prints right by the door steps where it had rested. The foot prints looked just like a new born baby had walked around in the white sand near Grannie's bottle garden. The tooth fairy must to have really liked all the cobalt blue bottles that she outlined her heart shape flower bed with by the steps because it had walked all around them in the sand. I followed the footprints and was jumping up and down squealing with excitement. This was better than Santa eating cookies. I could touch where the tooth fairy walked! That tooth fairy was so special because it found me that night.

Grannie was always very active but in the fall of 1967 Grannie was confined to her bed and I was sitting by her bed and she raised her hand to adjust the covers and I couldn't help but notice how much the outside edge of her hand looked like the sole of the tooth fairy's foot. I was a freshman in college then but that tooth fairy was just as real then as it was when I was six years old. Grannie passed away a few weeks later on September 4, 1967 and is buried by her husband John Roe Ballard, who was born July 11, 1867 and died November 24, 1915. Their graves are in Ballard Cemetery next door to where the tooth fairy found me that special night.


  1. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story. Your great-grandmother must have loved having another little girl around to do things like this for.

  2. What a precious story, Rita. It brought tears to my eyes. Grannie sounds like she was a special person. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I enjoy your stories,tell more please and more often.
    John R.Vines