I could hear something in the other room. It wasn’t a jarring sound, more like a melody or a tune. My eyes slowly open as I try to figure out what that noise could be and then I realize what I am hearing.
Slightly irritated I climb out of bed and head toward the kitchen to see exactly what is happening. I don’t think she realizes that I am up and standing in the doorway. The smell of coffee and a good Southern breakfast are now enveloping the entire house. She is so happy preparing breakfast for us and singing her heart out. “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” She knows the words by heart as do I.
This scenario would happen frequently at my grandmother’s house. Even though this was 25 years ago I can almost remember every detail. This fond memory brings me comfort regularly, but I was not as joyful about the situation when I was 10 or 11. I would think, ‘how in the world is someone so happy about getting up early and cooking?’ I would walk up to the stove and always question why she was (a) up so early and (b) cooking so early? A huge smile would spread across her face, however, her third cup of coffee may have been a huge contributor. We would chat about things going on at church, the neighbors, the desserts she intended to make, and me. Being the only grandchild that lived close and an only child having adults ask about you all the time is like being showered with an endless supply of affection.
Preparing breakfast was not my grandmother’s only time to cook during the day. As soon as the dirty dishes were in the sink to soak she would pull out more pots and pans for baking. Once we had baked an ample amount of cakes, cupcakes, and pies we would go “visiting.” This activity took up most of our days and I thought for a long time, all those people were sick or shut-ins. Some of the food deliveries were to those having difficulty leaving their homes, but some of those cupcake deliveries were simply an excuse to share a sweet treat with others. As much as I complained about being dragged from my pre-teen self-centered drama at home, it really was a fantastic schedule for a young girl.
We were always greeted with huge smiles and words of affirmation. Within minutes, I could smell a new pot of coffee brewing and laughter would fill the room. “Sweetheart, would you like one of the cupcakes while we visit,” was a question I frequently received. A resounding, “yes, please” is most likely how I got stuck with my current sweets addition, but I will save that issue for another post. These men and women we dropped by to see never seemed to show any hesitation about sharing their joys and struggles with my grandmother. I was amazed at how intently she would listen. Tears would give way to hugs, prayer and other words of encouragement. When we left someones home, we never left without the promise of another visit or phone call to talk again soon.
The questions about why she was up so early and singing went unanswered until a few years ago.
When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. I don’t know who came up with that upbeat affirmation, but that scenario is highly unlikely for most of us. “When life hands you lemons, you usually wind up with 34 papercuts all covered with lemon juice” would be a more appropriate statement. It seems as though none of us are overlooked when life starts handing out demerits. I have been thrown a few curve balls and one of the most comforting times each day was the downstairs couch with Sebastian at my side. Songs after song would flood my mind and almost all from that Methodist red back hymnal that I held throughout my childhood. The words of those songs were ingrained in me now bringing joy and comfort just as they did for my grandmother.
“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies, at last, I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it someday for a crown.”
What brings you joy? What memories from your childhood brings you comfort? Find them again. Lift others up. Pray. Love. Find friendship. Get up early and sing. If you don’t feel like singing, call me and I will sing to you.