This week I looked forward to a friend's visit. Several years ago, she moved out of state and remarried and our times together are few and far between. When she walked into my kitchen, I caught the glance she sent toward the windowsill over the sink. Made me smile...and the following story may explain why.
That last spring before my teenage son left for the army, he gave up a bright, sunny Saturday to help his father get a head start on next winter’s supply of firewood. They came tramping out of the woods at mid-day smelling of fresh-cut sawdust and moist, warm earth. Awaiting his turn to scrub off the outer layer of dirt before sitting down to some hot lunch, I watched him dig in his pocket for something. He struggled before bringing out a gnarled piece of reddish rootstock. He brushed off the clinging dirt and he set it on the counter. “Thought you’d like to make yourself some fresh sassafras tea, Mom.”
Smiling my thanks, I finished placing lunch on the table. And as soon as it was convenient, of course I did make that tea, savoring the sweet, spicy taste of our piney woods. I drank it from the dainty china teacup that holds a permanent spot on the kitchen sink’s windowsill. Not the normal resting place for such a delicate little thing with its pretty roses and thin gold band. Most times it looks rather forlorn sitting there without even a saucer to keep it company.
Ah, but this particular cup brims over with memories, especially the tale of how it got to my windowsill. Once it rested among its companion plates, saucers and other cups in the cabinet of a dear friend. We shared many times of good friendship over those cups at her kitchen table. Then came the day came when the friend had to move away. As all good friends do, I was among those who came to help pack and load the cross-country van. The chore was just about completed when we took time for one more cup of shared joy. We said our goodbyes. As I watched through misty eyes as the moving van disappear down the road, I noticed I was still holding that “last cup” in my hand.
Years have passed; my man-son and friend are both now miles away on different coasts of this country. The cup and root still remain on that shelf to catch my eye and bring back happy memories. Such an incongruous pair, a china teacup and a piece of sassafras root. Yet each time I see them, I’‘m once again wrapped in the love of a son and a friend.