Fine Things at Christmas
Only tiny, fine lines were visible as her minimal makeup showed her near-perfect, flawless completion. At age 81, she appeared far younger than her years. Even from a distance, you would take note of the gentle speaking, refined lady with the southern drawl and wide smile. She knew no stranger on the street. You took note of her style. From the interwoven collection of pearl and silver jewelry she wore to the perfection of her French manicured nails, you were drawn to her.
Her name was June.
Like the birthstone of the month‘s namesake, this precious pearl represented joy and energy as well as unity and compassion for her community. June is certainly the protective stone in her tiny, southern town. A woman who believes happiness and passion should encompass every aspect of life.
June is the owner of Fine Things, a small antique shop in Clinton, a small town snuggly nestled on the outskirts of Knoxville, Tennessee.
I was mesmerized by her gentleness with customers as she spoke in detail of every treasured antique that were carefully and elegantly displayed in her shop. I wanted her style. I wanted her smile. I wanted to embrace her kindness as I took note of how she made every person feel warm and loved as they entered her shop doors. As my chosen sister, Denise, and I wandered into the store on a warm autumn day, I wanted for nothing. But like its owner, her shop windows called to me and I had to wonder what treasures I would find inside.
As our conversation began, I noted how the love for each precious item she held was her own treasure with a story. I hung on every word.
June had been collecting antiques for 35 years. The little shop in this one-street town was her world since her beloved Raymond passed. They were married for 40 years. I found myself tearing up when she, through her own tears, spoke of her one true love. “He was the greatest man that ever lived,” she said. “100 years with him would have never been enough.”
She went on to say how much her husband loved her and encouraged her to do anything she wanted to do. “He’s the reason I have this store, you know,” June shared as she looked around at the collections that lined floors and adorned walls. “He told me, ‘You don’t need that store. That store needs you.’”
Raymond always wanted his June to have the finest things he could provide. They loved with a deep, abiding love until kidney cancer took him away. Today, Raymond’s picture sits with her at the old register on the counter, still watching and supporting her second love – the little shop on Market Street. She said, “This community saved me when I lost Raymond. Now, I like to think this little shop gives back.”
June believes everyone has a story and admits equal to the joy of having her treasured shop, is the stories of the people she enjoys listening to as they bustle up and down the street of this community called Clinton.
As I turned to leave, June said, “You know, I wish everyone could have a Raymond.” With a tear in her eye she continued, “I miss him every day. But now, this shop is my life and I know each time I open those doors, I think to myself ‘today is the first day of the rest of my life’. Raymond always said to me giving and loving is really the finest thing in life. He was always right. “
That autumn day, I did find a true treasure, in that little shop called Fine Things. My treasure was June. In a few short minutes, this precious soul gave me purpose and certainly added the needed oxygen to my life during a challenging time.
God bless you in heaven, Raymond. Thank you for loving June. Thank you for loving her little shop and allowing her to love people like me wandering (sometimes aimlessly) down an unfamiliar street on a crisp, sunny fall afternoon.
And to all of you out in the hustle and bustle of his holiday season - Merry Christmas. May you be the “June” to others during this treasured time of the year. And as Raymond has now taught me, don’t forget to always love unconditionally as you treasure the fine things in life that make YOUR life worth living.