The first day of kindergarten, Honey thought it was funny, and really quite amazing, that her new teacher could see her invisible friend Gertrude.
“Hi Gertrude,” said her teacher, “Welcome to K-2. Or do you prefer Gerdie? You can call me Miss Sarah.”
Honey giggled, “She prefers Gerdie.”
Miss Sarah looked puzzled. “Oh, uh, and what do you prefer?”
“My name is Honey. Honey Jar!”
“But, uh,” she stammered as she looked at the paper in her hand. Then she recovered and said, “Well, Honey,” spoken with patronizing emphasis, “tell Gerdie to meet us on the rug for circle time.”
It wasn’t until around the time of her mom’s accident that Honey realized her real name was Gertrude Sally Jar. Until then she had assumed that since her parents always called her “Honey”, that that was her name. And her sister’s name wasn’t “Sweetie” or “Sweet Bee” like Honey had thought but “Beatrice”. She must have heard her name enough to create her invisible friend and name her Gerdie. Gerdie was with her where ever she went. She was Honey’s confidant, her playmate, and her support. But Gerdie faded away just before Honey’s mom died, and Honey felt alone and abandoned. Honey’s name became something special to her, a connection to her mother that was hers, and hers alone. She held on to the name Honey with a ferocity that few had seen in a five year old before. Her insistence that her name was Honey never faded. Over the years, her dad attended many parent/teacher conferences to discuss Honey’s tantrums, foul language, and fights brought on by Honey’s rage when a classmate dared to insist that Honey’s name was really Gertrude. Eventually, her classmates learned that teasing Honey about her name was not a smart move. Honey was smart and had a sharp wit. She was fearless, strong and tenacious. If someone ended up tangling with Honey, he or she usually wound up on the loosing end and in tears.
So when Honey approached the hive for the second time she was nervous, not scared. More excited by what she might discover than anything else. Just as she figured, there was someone taking care of the bees. A man, still wearing his bee keeper’s veil, was leaving the hive as Honey walked up. Her whistle in her hand, just in case, Honey said, “Hey, are those your bees? You know, you’re not suppose to keep bees on public land without a permit.”
What started as a tense stand-off soon settled into a mutually beneficial arrangement. In exchange for a jar of honey every harvest day and tutelage in beekeeping, Honey kept Todd’s secret and assisted him with the tasks of beekeeping. Honey and Todd never really became friends. They were more like acquaintances at work. They rarely spoke, so engrossed were they in their work. But when they did talk it was comfortable and easy. Not like talking to so many grown-ups who always wanted something from Honey. When she and Todd finished up a hive box inspection, or after hauling the frames of honey to Todd’s waiting beat-up pick-up truck, they may say no more than, “See you next week,” or they may sit for a moment eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches and discuss what was going on with the hive. That was fine with Honey. What she didn’t want was a reminder of the jerks at school or the next family therapy session. So this arrangement was just right for Honey.
(to be continued...)