• Jodie Barringer

The Cup Full


The Cup Full

¼ cups

When I was a girl, I got to come up to Nashville for weeks at a time to stay with my grandparents in Franklin. I knew that on the first day, there would always be two chess pies that I could eat all by myself. And, I knew that the next day we would be able to go to the Ben Franklin on Main Street to buy a prize. And, I also knew that the plastic high heeled shoes that I desperately wanted to find in my size would never come in size big and that finding a baby doll that had a soft body would never happen. They only carried the hard plastic baby dolls that had stiff straight legs and stiff straight arms. So, I also knew that I would have to choose a prize like a woodburning kit or a pottery kit, or maybe a paint by numbers kit.

After our trip to get our prize, we got to come home to make cupcakes. My grandmother would give me the baby measuring cup to dip out batter. 1/4 cup full after ¼ cup full, I would drink that chocolate cake batter.

Those ¼ cups were full of everything that I knew to be solid in my life. I knew without a doubt that I was loved unconditionally by my parents and my grandparents and my brother. I had no concept of conditional love. And, my being allowed to eat all the cake batter that I wanted was proof positive that, even if I got sick, my grandmother would still let me do it again because you can never get enough cake batter, and your grandmother will always love you- even if you get the chocolate batter all over your play clothes. And, it stains them for life.

½ cups

The Harrison House, my grandparent’s house in Franklin, sat on the battle ground of the Battle of Franklin. In fact, the house was headquarters for the Union Army for a while. The house has land and land and land and streams and ponds on it. It is a perfect spot for the horses my grandfather loved.

Johnny and I would ride as much as we wanted. I loved Ole Pokey because I did not have to put a saddle on him, and he would let you stand on his back. I played Rodeo Queen as Dolly and Loretta Lynn sang through the tack room’s am radio. When I saw Dolly on Hee-Haw, I decided that big bosoms, long fingernails, and high heeled shoes were definitely for me, and I let Loretta slip to second tier.

Johnny and I played in the creeks and make forts and climbed cherry trees to pick the hot red balls of sweetness. We investigated the fire pit back behind the house to see what stuff looked like when it got burned up. One time we saw Lula go out there next to it to wring a chicken’s neck. The neck flopped over on her hand, and then she plucked off all of its feathers and tried to throw them all into the firepit, but they all just flew away in the wind.

Even in the summer, bath time was cold because my grandmother was afraid to fill up the tub above our knees. We guessed that was because she thought we would drown- even though she knew we could swim. For toys, she gave us measuring cups to play with. But even the ½ cups were too big to fill completely up with water. So, generally, our baths were very quick, and we stayed fairly dirty the weeks that we were in Franklin. We always acted like playing with the measuring cups was fun because we didn’t want to hurt Dot’s feelings. That is just what you do when you love somebody.

¾ cups

It takes 3/4 of a cup of white sugar and ¾ of a cup of brown sugar and 2 ½ cups of flour to make Toll House Cookies. But, if you put in 1 cup brown sugar and only 2 cups of flour, the cookies turn out thin and gooey and kind of fold over on your fingers as you eat them. Margaret Jones and I would make cookies every Thursday during the school year. When we got through with our sports, we drove back to my house and pulled out the chocolate chips. We leaned on the kitchen counters and ate spoonful after spoonful of the raw cookie dough as we discussed David and Thornton, and Mike, and Chris. We solved each other’s love lives and ignored my brother as he came in to see if the cookies were ready, yet. We learned that sometimes rules- like the famous Toll House Cookie Recipe- needed our own tweaking to make just right. We learned that friendships need tweaking, too.

A Full Cup

To this day, when the girls are home, we have our coffee together. This started when Leila was about thirteen. She had a sore throat, and I was trying to coax her into going to school. Her coffee was mostly cream and sugar, but she had a real coffee cup and my full attention. Not every day could we sit down together, but every day the girls knew that their coffee would be waiting for them. And, every day, they knew and still know that I will be waiting for them, whether they are in the mood to talk or not. Whether we sit and talk or sit in silence with our full cups of coffee, they know that I will always be there.

As I go into this fall season season and I drink my cup of coffee, I look across the kitchen counter that has on it a plate of chocolate chip cookies. Leila gets back from her internship in a month, and I know that I will see Libby tomorrow night. Margaret and I facebooked last week, and my grandmother’s picture on my desk. My brother’s number just popped up on my cell phone.

If life is measured, then, certainly,

My Cup Runneth Over.


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