Sweet Words

When my three-year-old grandson called out for me in the middle of the night, I instantly, and automatically, answered, “I’m here, honey.”

Grandson, undoubtedly not fully awake, said, “Whatcha’ doin’?”

I responded, “Sleeping, honey,” and then all was silent.

I commonly use the term honey with everyone. For my first years, I spent a lot of time around my maternal grandfather and grandmother. They were called ‘love birds’. I don’t think I ever heard a harsh word between them. My grandfather, from deep South Florida, had the habit of calling my grandmother, “Honey.” As a toddler learning to talk, I thought honey was my grandmother’s name, so that was the first clear name I called her: “Honey.” Everyone thought it was so cute, they took up call her that, too.  It was years before I learned that Honey’s real name was Anna.

My dear mother-in-law, Big Mama, was another one in my life to employ the use of the word honey. She coupled hers with “Well, honey…” And I guess I do that now, too.

I still remember the day I had stopped during rush hour at a busy Flying J Truck Stop and was waiting in line to pay for gas and a Coke. I noted the manager behind the counter, sprinting from one clerk to another, about eight of them, advising, guiding, fixing problems. The woman’s speed and composure in the busy store struck me, but even more was her use of the word, sugar. “Sugar, do it like this.” “That’s right, sugar.” “No, sugar, do this.” “Wait a minute, sugar.” I mean, every instruction she gave had a Sugar tacked on with it, including when she handed me my change, “Here you go, sugar.” I felt somehow blessed.

That was the day that I decided to take up using sweet endearments. I began to notice sweet words used by others, such as good friend, who commonly used, “Dear.” She said she was certain her use of, “Thank you, dear,” led to the young servers at the drive up window at MacDonald’s knowing her favorite thing to order and always accommodating her every request. Plus, it simply made her feel good.

Remember the old saw: Let me keep my words sweet, for tomorrow I may have to eat them. And as Mary Poppins sang, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” There is no doubt that whenever something difficult needs saying, the use of a sweet word helps soften both the telling and the hearing. I invite you to give it a try.

Here are a few more sweet words that I hear and use on a normal basis: “Baby”—apparently a common address down here in the Gulf Coast region, and no disrespect intended. I’ve been called this by a woman far younger than I, as well as a woman far older, both women kindly helping me with special requests and smoothing my way. “Sweetie-Pie”—you should see the grins this one gets. “Honey-bunny”—a special endearment from a special friend, and I heard my grandson’s teacher use it, too. “Darling”—for use with friends and family, as much as lovers. Then there’s Sugar Dumpling, Sugar-Pie, Precious, Sweetums.

Do you know more? Let’s all share and make the world a much sweeter place.