“What a blessing to have you here, child!” Mrs. Johnson speaks in her usual cheerful way.
“Thank you! I’m glad to be here,” I feel bad that my excitement comes from the finding out of what it is Mrs. Johnson has to show me.
“You will find out soon enough what I wanted to show you, love.” She chuckles and then starts walking towards her kitchen as I stare after her in mere disbelief. “Would you like some hot chocolate on this bitter day?”
“Were we not going to have tea, Mrs. Johnson?” I immediately rebuke myself in my mind. Just be polite and accept her generous offer!
“Oh I don’t like tea very much… but it sounds more fun and fancy if you call it a ‘tea party’… don’t you think?”
I laugh, “Yes, I suppose it does.”
Time is fleeing. The grand clock strikes 3:00 pm and I feel as if I have been there only a half of an hour. I know Mama will want my help with supper, but I have not yet seen the ‘secret’ as I call it.
Mrs. Johnson sighs contentedly. “Well, I suppose you had better be going. Which means, of course, that I will show you the item that I was talking about. Did you know that I wrote a book, Katherine?”
My interest is immediately piqued. I have many books and I cherish every one of them. I often find that I have wasted time reading when I ought to have been helping Mama cook and clean, or should have been helping one of my younger siblings with their homework and chores. “No, ma’am. I had no idea that you had written a book.”
“Oh, well that’s most likely because I never had it published.” She laughs heartily with a twinkle in her eye, and I can tell that she had been planning that scenario out for a while and uses it often when she tells folks of her book.
“Is it a story?” I ask, excited that I may be able to read it.
“Hm… in a way. Yes, I suppose it is. It’s my story.” She smiles at me. Mrs. Johnson stands up from her rocking chair and walks over to a trunk that is up against a wall. I had not noticed the trunk previously, but now that I see it I am intrigued. It is a brown leather trunk with straps that keep it shut. It is old and worn, to the point that it looks quite unstable.
“That trunk looks like it has gone through a lot!” I note as I watch Mrs. Johnson dig through papers and photographs. She places some of what she takes out on to the floor beside her. “May I look at the photographs?”
“Of course! You look at those while I find the book.”
I pick them up and flip through them. There are only five. There is one of Mrs. Johnson’s parents, one is of her as a young girl, two of her childhood home, and one of her whole family. The pictures are old and yellowed, but full of memories from the woman’s past. “These are very dear, Mrs. Johnson.”
“Yes… they are. You know, after my parents died, I felt a burdening responsibility to care for my younger siblings. And it took years of sorrow to finally forgive myself after they all passed away from smallpox while I was out-of-town visiting our aunt and uncle.” Mrs. Johnson looks at the pictures and says nothing.
“I’m so sorry…” I say in nearly a whisper.
“Thank you, dear. But we can be thankful, you know. For they were all strong in their faith when they died. Our parents taught us the truths of God throughout every day of our lives… just as your parents are doing.”
There doesn’t seem to be much to say. Mrs. Johnson stands up and hands me the book. I smile as I realize that it isn’t what I was expecting. It’s a journal! A beautifully leather-bound journal. I feel shivers crawl up my back at having this precious article placed in my hands. I can hardly believe that Mrs. Johnson would trust me with one of her most treasured possessions.
“Do you intend for me to take this book… and read it?” Does she honestly want me to read her journal? A book filled with private thoughts and lessons learned.
“Indeed I do! I would have no one else read it, my child.” She smiles at me and declares how late it is. The sun has just begun to set. She fetches my coat and scarf and walks me to the door. “Thank you, Katherine, for coming over. Thank you for having ‘tea’ with me,” she winks playfully.
“Oh, but it is I who should be thanking you. Thank you, for inviting me over and for this lovely time. I promise that no harm will come to your journal.” Mrs. Johnson smiles as she gives me a warm hug. I walk down her path onto the dirt road that was just about to be sprinkled with white fluffy snowflakes.
“Have a blessed day, child. And stay warm!” She calls out as I turn the corner onto my path. I rush home, eager to start reading my new book.
Featured image taken from Stock Snap.