This week I'm linking up with Jana over at Jana's Thinking Place in celebration of Fine China Friday.
Growing up in rural Alabama, we never really had any reason to use fine china. My mother kept her china in the china cabinet and took it out maybe once or twice a year to wash it. It was for looking at not for actually using. Until a couple of weeks ago, I was guilty of the very same thing. I had my china in a cabinet in the dining room all organized to look beautiful. And now, when I remember, we take out the china and use in on Friday night for dinner. I could probably even agree that the food tastes better when eaten from the fancy pants plates.
But my favorite pieces of china aren't from the set that I have in the cabinet. My favorite pieces have, until this point, stayed wrapped up in tissue paper and tucked away in a box of styrofoam peanuts. They were too special to have anywhere that they might get damaged even a tiny bit.
When I was a freshman at Auburn, Dr. Gary Waters was the Associate Dean of Undergraduates in the Business Program. He took special interest in me and suggested that I apply for a scholarship. Scholarships are awarded to the business school on an annual basis, and I had just enough time to get my application completed before the deadline (interestingly enough, Dr. Waters helped me fill out a good deal of the application). I didn't actually expect to receive a scholarship. Despite my 4.0 GPA, I wasn't especially sure of myself when I was a freshman. When the invitation to the scholarship banquet came in the mail, to say I was happy would be an understatement. I had been awarded the Anne Phillips Pearson Endowment. Anne Phillips Pearson had worked for Auburn University for years and years in various and sundry departments, including the accounting department (which was extra special because I was an accounting major).She had passed away years before, but her niece, Barbara, always met with the reciepeints of the scholarship at the banuqet. She had loved her aunt so that she always wanted to meet the people that their family was helping.
The endowed scholarship was a four year scholarship, so Barbara and I really got to know each other. She took me out to dinner for my birthday every year. She gave me Christmas presents. She called me during the week just to check on me to make sure I was doing okay. Since she lived in Auburn, on days that I wasn't busy I would go to her house to visit. On one such visit, she pulled out a box. In that box was four dessert plates. Her Aunt Anne had given them to her and she wanted me to have them. She said that Anne would have loved me so and would have been happy to know that I had something that had been hers.
In the Master of Accountancy program at Auburn is a non-theses master degree. Instead, we have to do a giant group project and presentation. The night before my group was to present, Barbara's husband called me to let me know that Barbara had passed away. She had been diagnosed with cancer weeks earlier. She had one chemotherapy treatment and died the next day. I attended the visitation and then the funeral. I lost a special part of my Auburn experience, but I will always have the memories of our time together. And I will always have my four little china dessert plates.