While I unpack boxes at my temporary home, my friend Christi is sharing a sweet story from her childhood. I know you will love it. Christi Snow is a former journalist turned full-time mom. She loves to hear a good story. Even more, she likes to record a good story. She writes about her reach for life in abundance and the people she meets along the way at www.honeyaplenty.com.
Here’s what Christi has to say ~
The other day I gave my boys a small cup of tea with a whole bunch of honey. That isn’t particularly unusual except this time two-year-old Pepper asked to drink from a delicate piece of china. I hesitated, imagining the strong likelihood the fragile cup would shatter into a thousand pieces, but then I smiled in an instant and gave it to him. JoJo would have let him use it.
Most people knew my great-grandmother as Jo C. Meyer, the kind woman who helped students and deans alike at the University of Texas’ communications school. For those who loved her best she was JoJo Hon. Of course, I was one of those who loved her best, and I’m pretty sure she loved me best — but then again, that’s the family joke. We are all convinced we were her favorite because that’s how she treated us, with great favor.
As a girl, I adored spending the night with her. My parents would pull into her driveway beside the yard full of English Ivy, and my sister and I would run to the porch with the big white wicker swing. I loved to hear it creak in a warm Texas breeze and think about how JoJo had learned to smoke during her girlhood by breaking pieces off her parent’s wicker furniture and lighting up the twigs. Wicker burns the throat, she would warn us, shaking her head in disapproval of her own capers — but her eyes laughed yet because she was always a rebel. By the time I was born, she had long given up smoking. However, she still chewed Freedent to stave off the habit, so that she always carried a waft of the minty gum, along with the powdery musk of her Chanel No. 5.
Once inside her home, I would give her petite self a big hug as she welcomed me and my sister as the dolls of the angel child. I think my mother was her angel child. JoJo was rather bent, but to me she was a most regal gentle lady with her silver curls and red lipstick and an intricate brooch worn at the collar of her silky blouses. Then she would settle in a tall wooden chair and I would snuggle into the brilliant blue shag carpet to watch some old movie classics, often starring Gregory Peck or Cary Grant. She would nod at my mom, “We like ‘em tall, dark and handsome”. It was true. My own husband is tall, dark and handsome. I think she would have liked that.
During these overnight stays it was very important that we have a tea party. My sister and I would start by getting dressed for the affair. We would dig through deep closets of gowns and coats. I still love the smell of dust, and I’m not sure if it’s because I love libraries or JoJo’s closets. Maybe it’s both. For my party wear, I often claimed JoJo’s mink stole as she would pull out drawers of her tiny kid gloves, so tiny they were even too small for my childish hands. It’s a bit horrifying to think how I must have stretched them, but she always offered and helped with the ancient pearl buttons. Then we raided her jewelry, and now and then she would give us a piece to keep. I still have her gold feather pin that I treasure. My aunt fussed at the time. “Don’t let her do that! She’ll give you anything you say you like.”
I’m sure she would have.
When we finally finished dressing, it was time to set the table. I’m sure we scared ridiculous amounts of relatives when they heard how we pulled out all the heirloom china and lead crystal. We did not worry about it because JoJo wasn’t. She laughed with delight as we fingered every plate and sipped from every glass. Giving us a bell to ring for service, she would act as the maid. We always insisted she join us after our drinks were full because it was not as much fun without JoJo.
Nothing of the flesh or material lasts forever in this world. Childhoods end. China cups break. Bodies die. Yet, I can feel vividly what I felt during tea parties with JoJo. I knew what was valued most at her table. Yes, I was loved.
Love, isn’t that eternal?
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
These words from 1 Corinthians are almost cliche, we hear them so often, but cliches often tell a whole lot of truth. The truth is, my soul will forever keep those moments, I am convinced, because God made love forever. He is love. He is forever. He gave me a hint of the kind of meals He serves in His household when JoJo poured tea in those oh-so-crackable china cups. I’m not sure every mother should make everything she owns available to her kids, but I know for me any china cup I own is worth risking to teach my children to remember love like that.