A little advice from Oletta Jones

I mentioned in an earlier blog post how much I was enjoying reading Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman.

CeeCee Honeycutt is 12-years-old when her mother, who has been mentally ill for years, dies. Fortunately, CeeCee’s great-aunt Tootie Caldwell rescues her and takes her to a Southern mansion in Savannah—“a perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity—one that appears to be run entirely by strong, wacky women.”

My favorite strong woman in this book is Oletta Jones, Aunt Tootie’s black housekeeper, who serves CeeCee breakfast the morning after she arrives in Savannah. First, she places a starched white doily on a plate. And, then, on top of the doily she sets a bowl covered by a dome-shaped silver lid. What’s inside? Steaming hot oatmeal.

The oatmeal reminds CeeCee of her mother, and she begins crying and telling her sad story to Oletta. Finally, Oletta says, “C’mon over here, child….Let me give you some sugar.”

At first, CeeCee has no idea what Oletta means by “sugar,” but soon the kind woman is holding the girl on her lap and patting her on the back.

Oletta provides CeeCee with plenty of nourishment. Cinnamon rolls, raspberry cobbler and seven-layer chocolate cake. Friendship. And some advice.

Oletta tells CeeCee:

  • “We all need to be careful in this world, but I promise you, for every bad person on this earth there’s a hundred good ones.”
  • “There’s no sense in feelin’ sorry for myself. Life is what it is.”
  • “Life don’t wait for nobody, and even as special as you are, it ain’t gonna wait for you, neither. So it’s time to make up your mind that you’re gonna join it.”
  • “Don’t go wastin’ all them bright tomorrows you ain’t even seen by hangin’ on to what happened yesterday. Let go, child. Just breathe out and let go….Wisdom comes from experience—from knowin’ each day is a gift and accepting it with gladness.”

CeeCee listens and concludes: “Deep down I had the feeling that Oletta most likely knew all that was worth knowing, not in book-learning ways, but in the ways that mattered, ways that let you hum songs during the day and sleep peacefully at night.”


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