Gramma’s Sugar Spoon
The Dogwood Tree
They were moving north by two hours and, in my heart, I knew time was short. Some things in this life seem to last forever, though. “Take this, honey…” Over and over she said those words as the van was loaded, and end-of-life decisions made. Bruce was her second husband and he was a hideously selfish man, so whenever he was out of ear shot, Gramma would say those words and push another treasure in the direction of my box. It all happened so quickly; the men carrying the big items, the boxes closing, whisked away by strong arms; my Gramma was moving away.
Sometime during my twelfth year, my Grampa died. He taught me how to tie a hook, thread a worm, and wait for the unsuspecting dinner to take the bait. We fished together. That was the only time in my young life it felt like I had a daddy. I loved him deeply for that, and his death left a greater void in my already-empty heart. Yet, joy of joys, Gramma moved in with us!
We were the three musketeers! Three generations of women struggling together in school, work and housekeeping. Gramma made my pre-teen bed and washed my clothes, much to the consternation of my mother who thought my training was interrupted by this kindness. But I loved this arrangement! She spoiled me as only Grammas can do, and I was loved. These years hold the oldest memory of her sugar spoon.
Cinnamon toast! Remember that? Gramma would mix equal parts of cinnamon and white sugar and then lavishly dress hot buttered toast with goodness falling from her sugar spoon. The smooth silver bowl and the ornate decoration on the handle became the welcome sight of my after-school time with the lady who loved me the most. Sure, the toast tasted like heaven in my hand, but the love of this fine lady was far sweeter.
We would sit on the piano bench and laugh as my little fingers tried to copy her rhythm and style. “NO! She will have the piano, take it to her truck now!” She could even make the selfish Bruce shake in his boots when she meant it! So, I got her piano, her china, her special friendship cups and a box of her silverware on moving day.
Mother married when I was sixteen. Grandma got her own apartment not far away, yet I still missed her! We visited often and during our times together, she would share stories about our family history, Grampa and God. Always she would sprinkle her stories with the sweetness of her Savior and read the 23rd psalm to me. Lavishly she loved me all through the rebellious years of my sojourn, never condemning; always sweetening.
One spring day she took me for a walk. As we came to a lovely tree with white flowers on every branch, she stopped and gently lowered a branch. “This is the Dogwood tree…” And thus, began the family legend each of my own grandchildren hear every spring. Would you like to hear it?
The Dogwood tree is a distant cousin of the very tree used to make the Cross upon which Jesus gave his life for all. In those days, this tree and all it’s cousins were strong and had very large, sturdy trunks. The tragedy of Calvary broke the heart of this tree and from that day until this, the Dogwood will always have a weak trunk, so it can never bear the weight of a man again. Furthermore, the once full and many-peddled flowers changed to a flower of only four peddles; and those in the shape of a cross. Each peddle has a spot of red on its tip signifying the precious blood of Jesus, and in the center of each flower we see the replica of a crown of thorns.
Gramma died alone, as did my mother, my unknown father, and the man my mother married. Bruce died, too, and only three people came to his funeral. He was such a hideously selfish man; poor thing. So, today, in my seventy-first year, I thank God for the dogwood tree outside my window, for the husband I loved for 40 years, for the love God brought into the life of a lonely little girl and for the sweetness lavishly sprinkled on the bread of that life.
Jesus found me. Gramma prayed that he would, and He did. He gave me the Holy Ghost and led me to a haven where Truth is spoken. He became my Lord, my Father, my Friend and now my Husband. Knowledge of Jesus is the sweetest gift of all; even in the brokenness of grief and grip of earthly sorrow, He sprinkles love and stays close to me. It is hard to eat alone, yet, every meal I eat from Gramma’s sugar spoon and each year sweet memory will chase away the broken-hearted loneliness; I hope.