They called her Ms. Janie. One day Skip woke up and thought he was back in the antebellum South. He smelled warm, sweet potato pies and collard greens coming from the kitchen. The heavens opened up and dropped Ms. Janie on the doorstep when they needed help the most. Ms. Janie, you see, was the quintessential Southern Mammy to the Sibleys now. Skip never really questioned her arrival; he just assumed that she was sent from God, or she was sent by one of the neighbors down the street. Ms. Janie always had a calmness about her and put those around her at ease. She was filled with the Holy Spirit and loved to talk about Jesus, her family, or what Skip should be doing to get better. Although the topic never came up, Skip assumed that Ms. Janie was uneducated, at least in a formal manner. Skip with his MBA and Ms. Janie with her basic knowledge seemed odd companions.
Ms. Janie was black with long, dark black hair that she usually wore tied back. She was tall, about the size of Skip in stature, and was on the thin side. Skip couldn’t imagine how she could gain any weight at all at the pace she kept up each day. She not only took care of Skip’s family, but helped with one of the families down the road, and she also had a sister who lived with her who needed a lot of her attention. Ms. Janie would care for and converse with Skip as she went about her daily chores. Ms. Janie had the kind of wisdom that couldn’t be learned from a textbook. She possessed a practical knowledge that was passed down to her through the generations. As with most Charlestonian black folks, her ancestors were slaves from Africa and ended up in the slave markets of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Skip, who had assumed she was literate because she spoke of Bible verses on a regular basis, was positioned well theologically between West Cooper Church and the Holy Spirit of Ms. Janie.