Monday, November 28, 2011

Honnahlee

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: 
but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 
I Corinthians 13:11 
(KJV)

Remember the childhood song,

“Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea,
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee”?

It was originally written as a poem by Lenny Lipton while in his freshman year of college in 1959, and it later became a very big hit song for the group Peter, Paul, and Mary.  
It is about a little boy, named Jackie Paper who has a stuffed dragon, named Puff.  
They have grand adventures together within the world of little Jackie’s vivid imagination.  
Oh, the happy hours they spend!  
But in the third verse of the poem/song something changes…. and it is very, very sad.

"A dragon lives forever but not so little boys,
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more,
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, Puff could not be brave,
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave."

I can hardly bear to sing or hear this song, because when I do, I think of our own little boy who is growing up way too fast.  
I cry over it, but as much as I cry and wish for time to slow down, he will continue to quickly grow into the fine young man he is becoming.  
I am powerless to freeze the moments.  
I can only stand by and see the changes that take place in our little man from day to day, 
and I can cherish every single second of his infancy, toddler days, and childhood up until now.  
And I can pray for God to keep him healthy and strong and give him a long and happy life and allow Kevin and me to see as much of it as possible.  
I can never go back and hold him as a baby again….
and that is a deep sadness within the core of my being.

As many or all of you know, we waited a very long time for Zachary.  
It seemed we would never have a child of our own, but when God did send us one, 
He sent us a very special, precious boy who gladdens our hearts every day with his sweet personality and kind ways.  
I thank God from the bottom of my heart for him and the blessing and comfort he is to Kevin and me and everyone else who knows him.  
I look forward to seeing what he becomes as an adult and what special plans God has for his life and future.  
When you wait so long for a child, 
I guess you tend to wish time would go slower even more than the average parent.  
The moments arrive, and then they are gone as quickly as they came, 
and you are left with a feeling of emptiness wondering where the time has gone. 

There is a wonderful little toy store in Lewisburg, WV that has become a cherished spot to Zachary, his Granny Alda, and me.  
Ever since Zach was a tiny little boy, it has been a tradition for Granny, Zachary, and me to go to there each time we go to WV and spend some time shopping.  
Without fail, Zachary leaves the store with some goodies Granny has bought him, 
but more important than the new found treasures, 
the three of us leave there with a new deposit to our “special memories” bank.  
Very appropriately-named, the store is called Honnahlee 
(spelled a bit different than the lyrics in the song). 


The owner of Honnahlee is a middle-aged man who moved to Lewisburg with his wife several years ago and opened the store after retiring from teaching school.  
He just seems like he LOVES what he does, and he makes the shopping experience very special.  Towards the front of his store, there is a Thomas the Train wooden table 
where Zachary used to play every time we would go in the store when he was younger.  
We would have a hard time prying him away from it each and every time we went in.  
Then there are the hard plastic animals, puzzles, games, stuffed animals, 
and a host of other kinds of toys.  
As you continue walking, you reach the back, 
where the most precious memories of all have been made.

In this section at the back, you can sit on little wooden chairs, 
and you can pretend you are baking pizzas and birthday cakes.  
There is a cash register on a little wooden stand with a colorful umbrella over it, 
in case you want to pretend you are in a restaurant or grocery store.  



There’s a pretend stove with an oven and all kinds of plastic groceries and accessories.  
Granny and Zachary would sit down on the little wooden chairs and play together,
 and Zach would pretend he was serving Granny pizza and other goodies.  



They had their own little time of “serious” play, and I would stand by soaking it in.  
I’m so glad I did.


Granny would “enjoy” the fun as long as she could endure her back pain
 from sitting on the wooden chairs.  
Then, reluctantly each time, we would leave, with Zachary’s new treasures in tow.  
He would always pause at the Thomas the Train table, 
always stalling, longing for more time at Honnahlee with Granny.  
Oh, the precious memories we have made there through the years! 

One day, during our last trip to WV, Zachary and I were driving along through Lewisburg 
after visiting some local thrift stores.  
As we passed through the downtown section, I began looking for Honnahlee.  
For some reason, I always get mixed up as to which side of the road it’s on…
it is tucked in the midst of several stores that kind of all blend together.  
I could always spot it because there is a huge stuffed giraffe that is usually sitting on the sidewalk in front of the store.  
As we drove along, I looked for the giraffe and didn’t see it.  
Then my eyes fell on something that made me sit there in the car and cry like a baby. 

On the window of Honnahlee, was a big white piece of paper that said something like this,.. 
“We are closing December 31st.  Thanks for the last 12 years!”  
All of those precious memories flooded my mind…..
almost ten years’ worth of special times with Granny and Zachary 
in a place that was happy and peaceful and kind of removed from the stress outside.  
I cried so hard I could hardly see to drive us the 30 or so miles back to Mom and Dad Smith’s house.  When we got there and told Granny, she was sad, too.  
So, we immediately made plans to go to the toy store….one last time.

This trip was different.  
As we walked through the front door, we knew this would more than likely be the very last time the three of us would do this together.  
Our vacation only lasted a week, and by the time we get to go back to WV,
 that special door will be closed and the inside will be empty as we peer through the front window.  Kevin went with us that day, and even his Dad went and sat in the car 
while we went in and enjoyed our tradition one last time.  
Zachary’s taller now, so he had to bend down to play with the Thomas the Train table. 
As he played, we fondly remembered all of the other times he has done that through the years.  
He and Granny spent time at their special spot in the back, and, this time, we took LOTS of pictures.
(Those are included with this post.)  
The chairs somehow seemed smaller than they did when we first started going there, 
and I noticed Zach doesn’t fit in them so easily now.  
As we were checking out, we talked to the owner, 
and I poured out my heart telling him how much his store has meant to us through the years 
and how it was such a part of many special memories.  
He told me how sweet I was to say that, and we both fought back tears as I turned to go.  
Another chapter closed in our book of life.

Kevin and Zachary have been cleaning Zach’s room.  
I’ve been noticing that toys that he cherished only a short time ago are ending up 
in the “donate/give away” box.  
Every now and then, I will walk by, peek into the box, and ask, 
“Are you SURE, Zach?  Do you really want to get rid of that?”  
He’ll say, “Yes, Mama.  I’ve kind of outgrown it.  I don’t play with it anymore.”  
Each time I hear those words, they are like darts into the tenderest part of my heart.

Zachary is growing up.  
I can’t change it.  
I can’t slow it down.  
It is happening right before my eyes.  
Many times, when he wakes up and comes down the hall in the morning to where Kevin and I are sitting talking, Kevin will say, “Zach, I think you grew last night”. 
It seems overnight he gets taller and more mature-looking.

I know the day will come when he is no longer a little boy…
when he won’t even have the desire to go into a store like Honnahlee.  
I will miss those days….terribly. 
So, while I still have him here…in our home, seated at our table, gathered with us for prayer during family worship, may God help me make the very most of every, single second.  
May every minute be spent making positive-impact memories that will stay with him and comfort and sustain him through life. 

The most valuable gifts we could ever give our children boil down to two things, in my opinion...
a solid spiritual foundation 
and 
our time.  
I know other things are important, too, but to me, those are the most significant.  

If you still have a child/children at home with you, hug them a little tighter today, will you?
Cherish the moment a little longer than usual.  
Overlook the frustrations, the fingerprints and smudges, and the toys scattered across your floor.
Dismiss the urge to scold, and pick that little one up and hold on for dear life.
I know the days seem long, the toil seems hard, and the repetition becomes mundane.
You can't see it now, but these are some of the most meaningful, precious moments of life you will ever spend, my friend.
Make the most of every, single second, and give away every drop of the love inside your heart.
For sadly, these days will one day end,
and these chapters, 
like the doors of Honnahlee, will one day close.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your special memories, and the reminder to cherish our own! #WhatJoyIsMine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Steph! I enjoyed visiting your blog. It is so fascinating to see what you can do through sign language. God bless you...it was so nice to "meet" you today! :)

      Delete
  2. Awww, that looked like a great store with some awesome memories for you! Since I am a grandma, I say the same things you are saying to young moms. To enjoy every minute and spend as much time as you can with your kids because the time is gone so fast and you can't go back! Thanks for sharing at Rich Faith Rising!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right...it is like you blink, and they have grown an inch. You certainly understand, having already stepping into the role of grandmother. God bless you for stopping by and leaving sweet encouragement behind!!

      Delete
  3. I am so glad you could make one more trip to the Store Honnahlee to say good bye. The store owner appreciated your kind words and he too was sad to need to close his store. It is a good thing that Zach is willing to release toys he no longer needs so that someone else may enjoy them. Thank you for sharing your lovely memories with us here at Tell me a Story. May the angels protect and watch over you, your husband and your precious boy as he becomes a man.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Hazel. And, thank you for the wonderful link-up!

      Delete
  4. Dear Cheryl what a wonderful toy store run by a special man. I am so pleased that you could share this with us at Good Morning Mondays. Time does pass so quickly and we can't keep our children small and I so understand your pain. It seems like yesterday that our oldest was a baby and now she is married with babies of her own. It is so bittersweet. May your relationship with your son just deepen even further as he continues to grow. Blessings to you dear friend

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right, Terri. It is so bittersweet...the years just go by so quickly, and then, one day, we look back and wonder how we got to middle age! :) Thank you so much for your sweet, kind words. They mean so much to me. Yes, I pray our relationship continues to deepen...I trust God it will be so. Have a wonderful, blessed day, dear friend!

      Delete