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I think about her often as I drink my coffee in the morning. She gave me this lovely cup.

from Jewel

from Jewel

She never wore the uniform issued to her. She greeted us every morning in gingham checked smocks sewn by her and a long lanyard with three keys hanging around her neck. I, on the other hand, had a dozen or so keys to open display cases, the language lab and all the doors of my teachers as the need arose. Yet she had only three. I have learned since, there is power in only having three keys. Of all her gingham dresses, I remember the yellow gingham dress with the large white buttons best. Her long black hair was neatly braided in a crown around the top of her head. She didn’t really smile. Her quiet demeanor seemed to smile for her as she showed satisfaction in doing a good job. And, a good job she did as she had been entrusted with only three keys that opened everything. She helped us start our days peacefully in our child zone. I was an early bird. Still the one hundred cup coffee maker always showed the red light on and signaled coffee was ready to start the day. I don’t think she ever missed a day.

One morning, I couldn’t find my cup. She knew something was amiss.

“Aren’t you going to drink the coffee? It’s ready.”

“Yes, but my cup is missing.”

She wasn’t surprised. She wasn’t as disturbed as I was.

“I’ve got just the one for you, Miss Georgette. Your name is French, isn’t it?”

I knew when she gave it to me, it was a very special cup. It was something lovely that had called out to her when she found it and could be loved by another. Where in the world did she get it? Supplying us with cups was not in her contract. Yes, I always think about her when I drink from this cup and the family knows not to touch it. Just to be safe, I place it in the back of the cupboard, so it’s not the first one someone grabs.

She helped us with gift giving. Her Avon books sat on the teachers’ lounge tables for us to take care of Christmas shopping, birthdays and “just because” occasions during our free time. Free time? Not much, but she found a very practical market and grateful customers.

One morning I came to school without my earrings on.

“Where are your ear bobs?” she asked me.

I had forgotten to get completely dressed! Busy morning I guess. “Good thing I have these I keep in my purse just in case,” I came back.

They were plain gold studs my husband had given me before we were married. So I went into the ladies’ to use the mirror as I put them on. My morning did not improve as I dropped one down the sink.

“Oh no,” I cried out coming out from the bathroom. “I dropped one down the sink and it’s gone.”

Jewel found a wrench and went into the bathroom. Before I knew it, she emerged out of the bathroom with the lost “ear bob.” “Alls I did was open the trap,” she explained.

To me it was gone, gone down the drain. But Jewel knew better. In addition to keeping the coffee, displaying her Avon books and supplying the coffee cups she showed me she knew how to wield a wrench, too.

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