Tuesday, May 22, 2018

to bonnie, with bunches and bunches of love

It was the summer of 1998.  I had just returned from my freshman year at Clemson.  I had switched my major to early childhood education and thought it would be a good idea to get a job at a local daycare.  I walked in and applied at Amerson's Daycare, right down the road from my neighborhood.  The owner hired me on the spot.  

On my first day of work, I instantly fell in love with one of the teachers.  When she asked me where I got the cute sundress I was wearing, I told her Family Dollar. To which she replied, "You are one cool girl.  Like my people."  

We spent several lunch breaks making trips to Family Dollar and Burger King in her big dinosaur of a car.  She invited me over to her house on occasion.  It wasn't until some time later in the summer that I learned she was the aunt to my high school crush.  I liked to died right there on the kitchen floor of the daycare, right beside the sticky high chairs, when she told me he was on his way to visit her at work.  

I'll never forget her laugh as I primped in the tiny little bathroom.  

We had fun that summer.  And the Christmas break that followed.  And the following summer. 

I would visit her at her house when I was in town for a visit.  She left a big Bonnie-shaped impression on my 19-year old heart.  

It would be six years until we saw each other again.  Only this time, I was dating her nephew.  I'll never forget the night he took me home to meet her.  She and I sat on the couch for hours laughing about those days we worked together at the daycare.   She welcomed me into the family with loving arms.  

While she never birthed a baby, she had more children than her arms could hold.  And she loved them all the same.  But perhaps the most beautiful love to watch was the love she had for her family.  After I became a mama, I learned quickly that there was no point in telling her not to give them cookies or cake or soft drinks.  She was going to do what she darn well pleased and don't tell her any different.  Bonnie had a way of spoiling our children rotten.  From notes of encouragement to Dollar General trips, she invested in their lives and made a lasting impression in their hearts.  

The weight of her passing is heavy.  And will be felt for as long as we draw breath.  Our family is better because of her and we will forever cherish the memories we have of Bonnie.  My only hope is to leave a legacy of love like you have in the hearts of my family.

We love you bunches and bunches, Bonnie!