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Chapter thirteen of Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich is told from the point of view of Lipsha Morrissey; he was adopted by the Kashpaws, whom he calls grandma and grandpa and whom he loves.
We learn that Lipsha has a special ability. He says,
...I got the touch. It's a secret you got to be born with. I got secrets in my hands that nobody ever knew to ask.
This gift is apparently part of his family heritage. This gift inexplicably works on everyone but his grandfather, Nector Kashpaw, as much because Lipsha is hesitant to try it on him as anything else.
Nector is suffering from diabetes and sneaks over to Lulu Nanapush Lamartine's apartment (who is now living in the same nursing home Nector and Marie Lazarre Kashpaw live in) for sweets--and a little more. They are having an affair.
Lipsha is not yet twenty years old when his grandmother asks him to use his gift on Nector, incorporating a tradition known as "love medicine." This is an ancient art which utilizes talismen and tokens to effect a healing change. Lipsha agrees (mostly out of guilt) but says this gift cannot be used without caution and planning. He and Marie devise a plan which he thinks will work.
Both Nector and Marie must eat a goose heart; Lipsha chooses a goose because geese mate for life and, more than anything, Marie wants Nector to be faithful to her. Marie knows this might not work, but she casually assumes that, even if it does not work, no harm can come of it.
Lipsha tries to shoot a pair of geese but is unable to do so; instead he buys frozen turkey hearts from the store. Though he tries to believe they will be the an equal substitute, he knows they will not be. He tries to get the turkey hearts blessed, but no one will do it.
Marie eagerly eats what she thinks is a raw female goose heart, but Nector refuses the male heart. In fact, he mocks his wife by putting the goose heart in his mouth but refusing to swallow it.
Marie is outraged and thumps her husband on the shoulder blades, hoping this will make him swallow it. Instead, Nector chokes to death on the goose heart. Lipsha tries to use the healing in his hands to revive his grandfather, but he is unsuccessful. From then on, Lipsha's gift is gone.
Marie barely survives the shock. But, after the funeral, she tells Lipsha that Nector has returned from beyond to get her; he comes and sits on her bed. She believes the love medicine was so strong that her husband could not bear to leave this world without her by his side. Lipsha also senses his grandfather's presence and tells Nector he must leave, and it seems to work.
Lipsha finally confesses his trickery to his grandmother. He assures her that Nector must have come back because he truly loved her, since the love medicine was not real. Grandma Kashpaw gives Lipsha some beads which she once received from her adopted daughter June (June is Lipsha's mother).
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