‘Mrs. Johnson’s Sunday Teatime’- Chapter 8

    “Katherine, wake up.” It is in the morning hours and I hear my sister’s voice prodding me to awaken. The past three weeks have been sorrowful as we’ve received news of Mrs. Johnson’s declining health and visited her often. Her illness has convinced her that she does not have a cold, but she says that in her old age not much will heal her body. Even the doctor’s “near poisonous” medicines, she says with a weak smile. Mrs. Johnson is like that. She just lets things unfold. If she decides something can’t be helped, it is unlikely that she will do much other than apply different types of herbs and nutritious foods.

     “Good morning, Anna.” I yawn as I turn in my bed. Jill is already dressed and ready for the day, as she usually is at 5:00 am.

     “Good morning! Now, hurry and get up, sleepy-head!” I hear the excitement for a new day in her voice. I smile as I grab her hand and pull it into bed with me. My way of saying, ‘No, but why don’t you go back to sleep with me?’

     She laughs and pulls her hand away. “If you don’t hurry I’m going to check on Milly’s calf by myself.” She stands up straighter and crosses her arms over her chest. Sometimes I think that she would have fit the role of ‘eldest sister’ better than I.

     My eyes immediately open wide. “You mean…” I sit up straight and stare at Anna. “Did she?”

     “Well, I wouldn’t be talking about visiting an unborn calf, would I? Now, hurry, I said. Get dressed so we can go! Papa has been out there nearly all night with Mama.”

     I tumble out of bed and into my dress. I fumble with my apron strings and rush out of the house with Anna and Joy. We chatter excitedly about the new addition to the farm.

     We welcome Little Bella with smiles and laughter. And laughter is what our family needs during this time.

****

     The snow is gone. The grass is turning green, flowers are starting to bloom, and the buds on the trees are growing bigger. The sunshine warms the air and refreshing breezes add to the joy of Springtime.

     It’s too beautiful a day to be sick, I think to myself, Mrs. Johnson should be outside enjoying this weather with me. I have found, in these past weeks, that thoughts like that enter my mind too quickly. ‘She should be’, ‘it ought to have been’, or ‘why can’t this happen?’ Too often I find that I am questioning God’s providence.

     I hold Mrs. Johnson’s journal tightly. I’ll be sad to let it go, but I will never forget the stories that I read in it. So much laughter and joy, but deep sorrow and pain as well.

     Through the many times I’ve visited Mrs. Johnson, I have learned many things. I have learned that instead of knocking you should just walk right in since “we’re all family”. I have learned that green tea helps everything, you just have to tell yourself that it does. I have learned the perfect temperature for Mrs. Johnson’s tea, and how much cream she likes. I have learned that books make good friends for sick people. I have learned what being a servant means.

     I walk into the house and into the kitchen. I pour water into her teapot and put it on the stove. I hear violent coughing in the next room and know… obviously… that Mrs. Johnson is awake. I knock softly on her door before going in. I smile as she turns her head to see who it is.

     “Hello, dear.” She smiles brightly.

     “How are you feeling?” Dare I ask?

     “Well, I ‘d like to say that I’ll be better in a few days. But I don’t think the Lord has that for me. But good news!”

     “I’m glad you have good news to cheer you. What is it?” I sit down in the chair next to her.

     “You’re here.” She laughs and tries to prop herself up. “Did you bring something?”

     I smile and answer yes. “I brought back your book. Thank you for letting me read it. I benefited greatly from it. So many valuable lessons in it! You should look into selling it,” I joke. “I think it is my new favorite book.”

     “Good! Because it is yours.” She smiles at her words and the look of surprise on my face. “You know,” she says, “My plan of giving you the book would have failed completely if you really didn’t enjoy it.”

     “It-it’s mine? All of your stories? Your memories?” I whisper the words. I can’t believe it at all.

     “Oh, child! Memories are not stories on paper or even photographs that are kept for years in keepsake boxes. Memories are with you no matter what you kept from the experience. I have had more joy remembering than going through that journal.” She gestured to the book I held in my hands. “It’s yours.”

Featured image taken from Stock Snap.

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