Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Somehow, I missed posting this back in August when I wrote it.

I've been thinking of breakfasts quite a bit lately. Probably because it is summer and our family has time each morning to linger. Our summer mornings almost always begin when Sloane joins me in bed and we snuggle and play. Jeffrey has usually been up for quite some time, so this is often just girl time. We whisper our dreams of the night before and share our wishes for the coming day. We laugh and tickle and giggle. Sometimes one of us goes to fetch a book and we stay in bed for an hour, snuggled up and reading about Kit or Charlotte or Mary Lennox.

Eventually we make our way to the kitchen. We usually find a yummy breakfast waiting, courtesy of an endlessly wonderful Daddy. We've been inspired lately by delicious meals here and here. One of my favorite breakfasts this summer was a plate of strawberries with a spoonful of powdered sugar for dipping. What a sweet way to start the day!

The other morning when we were snuggling, Sloane asked me her favorite question, "Momma, will you please tell me a story?" It is my privilege to pass along my stories and the stories of my family. Jeffrey has a treasure trove of tales from his own parents, and he's turned out to be an amazing Scheherazade. And so, with him as inspiration, I make the effort to paint stories of my own young life. Things that seem like little snippets of memory to me are always treasured by Sloane. I remind myself of the miracle it is for a child to be able to see their parents as children. I think of telling Sloane another Heidi story and how she will say, "Yes, Heidi. Your best friend from church. Are Joe and Brian in this story, too?" How accessible storytelling makes us to our children.

One breakfast, not too long ago, Sloane asked me her favorite question, "Momma, will you please tell me a story?" This is the one I told her.

When I was 15 I was able to go on a missions trip to Curacao, an island in the Caribbean. Several people from a local church acted as our hosts. Lucky me. I got to stay with a pretty lady named Miriam. She had eyes the color of chocolate and long, black, wavy hair. Her smile was big and her laugh was kind of a silly honk. So funny. Miriam was young and pretty and she opened her tiny apartment to four crazy teenage girls from America. I remember laughing a lot. On our first night in her house, we had known her for only a few hours, but I remember laughing and laughing and laughing. We were blasting music and dancing around, singing along with hairbrush microphones. That night, I got to be the Doo-wop singer I always wanted to be. I remember sleeping so well that night, even though it was a strange bed. Laughing with friends will do that for you.

Miriam woke us up with a smile and a song in her voice. Remember that Miriam had been up very late with us and still had to go to work that day. She wished us a good morning and a happy day as she gestured us out to the balcony. The tiny balcony looked very much like a picture I have from an old magazine. I'll dig it out later and show you. This memory is why I kept the picture all these years.

That morning in June, I ate one of the best breakfasts of my life. I remember gasping when I saw the little balcony set with such a pretty table. I remember sitting in a tiny chair at a small table on a balcony, surrounded by new friends. I remember how good it felt to be taken care of by someone with such a loving, generous heart. I remember the tiny section of far-off ocean you could see when you leaned over the balcony. I remember the feel of the breeze and the sounds of the island. I remember that the table was set beautifully and had fresh, tropical flowers in a jug in the center. We ate fresh bread, jam, and delicious fruit from pottery plates. I watched Miriam squeeze our juice and I remember thinking that I wanted to take care of people like this some day. I remember how quiet we all became as we sat and soaked up this incredible moment.

And now, I am thinking of the friends who fill our lives. I am thinking about how real friendship is possible, even as it exists among virtual strangers or people who share only hours together. I am thinking of the way that people can leave lasting impressions in our lives. I am thinking that while some of life's greatest lessons come from grandparents, teachers, moms and dads, old friends... many more of them come from people who are in our lives for brief moments.

I wouldn't know how to find Miriam now. If I ever knew her last name or had her address, the 15 year old me forgot it long ago. Years have gone by, but Miriam is still a friend who touched my life. She taught me about generosity and hospitality. She taught me to be open to new people and experiences. She taught me that laughter and silliness are a great bridge. She taught me that simple things, done with great love, will be remembered long after the meal is eaten or the party finished.

Thank you, Miriam.

This picture comes from a long forgotten magazine. I have notebooks full of tear sheets. This one was perfect for my memory. I'm wondering about the Miriams in your life.


The Feathered Nest said...

Oh Relyn, what a beautiful post and memory!! I know Sloane must love hearing you tell her these memories. You have such a wonderful way of telling a story ~ I can so see you writing a book, have you started it yet? Wishing you a great day sweetie!! xxoo, Dawn

My Castle in Spain said...

How I loved this story Relyn..! gosh..i kept thinking, please tell us you met Miriam again...Hope your paths will cross again one day and you'll tell us another wonderful story..But you've got this amazing memory and that's already something to cherish...
A big hug to you

Jessica said...

Breakfast is my favorite time of the day...especially when I've snuggled in bed for a while and read a good book!

Yoli said...

Relyn I felt I was in Miriam's balcony. I felt the breeze and smelled the freshly squeezed juice. Sloan is a lucky little girl to have such wonderful story teller as a Mom. I agree, when are you going to write the book?

Daydreamer said...

Love reading your "reflections"! And your photgraphs are wonderful!

Christina said...

This is so wonderful! It's as though I was there. I absolutely love reading your blog.

Jaime said...

Oooooooh...this makes me sigh a dreamy sigh. A perfect breakfast on a beautiful balcony on a warm day, surrounded by love.
Friends are wonderful aren't they? I'm glad to call you my friend, dear Relyn.

Looks like I have some catching up to do!


susanna said...

That IS a good childhood memory, Relyn. I can just imagine all of you together, eating breaking, soaking up each other's friendship in that beautiful place.

robin bird said...

i was really moved by your last paragraph relyn. the things that miriam taught you from simply being herself and welcoming you into her home. and all these long years later you can still recall the experience. i love some of the memories i have like this. i cherish them. they give me a little boost of hope and i feel cared for when i bring them forward. sloane is a lucky girl but i can already see how she has her own gifts of caring to pass out into the wide universe too.

Oldies, but Goodies