Catherine Marie and I sat on my old porch swing – she with a frozen grape Popsicle and I with a glass of sweet iced tea – enjoying “girl talk” from a five-year-old’s point of view.
My niece had spent part of the morning adorning herself with fine "jewels" from a box of old costume jewelry I had saved for her. The "diamonds" and rubies" kept her enchanted for several hours. She was a princess, a singing diva, a mommy, and a rock star all within the space of the front porch that humid June morning. She was still wearing the old purple pop beads she found in the bottom of the box.
Earlier, we had baked her favorite gumdrop cookies. I had purchased two bags of gumdrops to make certain there would be enough purple ones for her to use. Only purple gumdrops were special enough for the batter - they were her secret ingredient.
The phone rang as my tiny niece was asking her thirty-fourth question of the morning, “Aunt Nan, where did Miss Tommy get her kittens?”
Miss Tommy had been given to me as a kitten by my neighbor, Brenda. Not being experts in these matters, Brenda and I thought the kitten was a male and I named "him" Tommy. By the time I realized the mistake, Tommy liked her name and she became “Miss Tommy.”
“Just a minute, Princess…let me answer the phone.” I scurried into the house.
After giving Brenda my pineapple upside-down cake recipe over the phone, I returned to the porch where Catherine Marie was engrossed in watching the hummingbirds fluttering among the red candy-cane crepe myrtles. Fortunately, she had forgotten about Miss Tommy and her kittens.
"Aunt Nan, the hummingbirds look like helicopters with feathers… why do the hummingbirds like only the red flowers? “Does it make them mad because the butterflies like the same flowers?”
"Aunt Nan, did you know my daddy is sick?"
That was news to me. Usually I'm one of the first to hear when someone in the family is sick. “No, Catherine Marie, I didn’t know your dad was sick. What’s wrong with him?”
“I don’t know,” she declared, looking up at me with big blue innocent eyes. “He has a headache every Sunday morning.”
"Aunt Nan, are you going to Heaven?"
"Yes, Catherine Marie, I'm going to Heaven some day. Why do you ask?"
"Cause if you aren't there, I don't want to go."
Startled by the thoughts of my precious little niece, I told her how everyone can go to Heaven because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross. Taking my Bible, I read John 3:16 to her.
"Catherine Marie, you can be confident that everything in the Bible is the word of God and He will keep his promises."
"What does confident mean?” She sat with her bare feet dangling over the edge of the porch swing.
“The word ‘confident’ means you are sure about something. For instance, your mom said she will pick you up at seven o’clock this evening…we can be sure, or confident, she will be here. When you return home tonight, your purple bear will be on your bed…you can be confident he’ll be waiting for you. But most of all, you can be confident that when you ask Jesus to come into your heart, He will.”
“I like that, Aunt Nan.”
Twirling the purple pop beads with her tiny fingers, she looked up at me as an irresistible grin spread across her angelic face.
“Aunt Nan, you want to hear me count to twelve in Spanish?”
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