Kintsukuroi is a Japanese term. It is used both as a noun and as a verb. In its verbal form, kintsukuroi means “to repair with gold.” I’ll share with you the meaning of this word as a noun a bit later. I assure you, there’s a point to this.
Last Friday night, I was on a business trip elsewhere in the Southeast. As the historic and deadly winter storm – Jonas – was bombarding the Eastern seaboard with freezing rain, ice, sleet, and snow, I was attending a Mardi Gras-themed masquerade ball filled with friends and colleagues and classmates. It was like our own mini-New Orleans experience – complete with tuxedos, formal gowns, masquerade masks, and a plethora of authentic Cajun and French dishes. Despite the blizzard, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. That is, right up until the time I received the call.
We all know about the call. The harbinger of bad news concerning something we love. The forerunner of bad news concerning someone we love. I was at the masquerade ball when I received the call. My sister, Cynthia, was on the other end. My mother has just suffered a stroke. I remember the feeling was very much like taking a roundhouse right from “Iron” Mike Tyson in his prime. I couldn’t think. I could hardly breathe. My heart had just been broken.
Anyone who has read my column with any degree of regularity knows how much I love my mother, Dr. Hazel T. Jones. I proudly declare myself to be a Mama’s boy. As a lifelong advocate for education and children, my mother has served with distinction as a teacher, principal, educational consultant, and college professor. But more than that, her love for God and His people has also helped to make her an even better mother, wife, daughter, friend, mentor, Christian, sorority sister, and human being. Dr. Jones isn’t just my mother. She’s also my role model. She’s someone who can correct me when I’m wrong with a whisper, a non-verbal cue, or even a glance.
My mother had been dining with a group of friends and family members (including my sister) last Friday night at The Plaza Restaurant when suddenly, she couldn’t hear what anyone/everyone was saying at their table. Then, her vision was adversely affected. Her legs would not response to her will, and all semblance of stability was gone. And then, my mother – my hero – collapsed. She was unconscious and non-responsive.
Cynthia called me from Archbold Memorial Hospital to tell me what had just transpired. I could tell from my sister’s measured tone that the situation was grim By then, Mama had been taken there and admitted. My initial reaction was to get back to Thomasville as quickly as possible, but winter storm Jonas had made that all but impossible. I listened intently as first my sister, then my father, asked me to stay put. Someone wise once said, “Listen to learn, and learn to listen.” I did… and I did.
My father’s heart was also broken. I know him. I could feel it. So was my sister’s, but since she’s infinitely cooler and smarter than I could ever hope to be, it didn’t show as readily. All I could do was to find the nearest Episcopal chapel – the Chapel of the Apostles – and seek solace there. Pray to God there. Listen for His voice there in the divine silence and soft light.
I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night. I spent quite a bit of time staring at my smartphone – bracing for another call from Archbold, which thanks to God’s infinite mercy, didn’t come.
Saturday evening, a miracle occurred. I received a phone call from my mother from her hospital room. When I asked her how she was feeling, she immediately redirected me: “Let’s talk about something truly important. How is your Biblical Greek coming along?” Always an educator. How was it that Mama’s voice could sound weak, and yet so strong? She knows me. I felt immeasurably better. Once again, the Lord had blessed me.
I want to express my deepest appreciation for everyone who called or emailed or texted me to tell me they loved me, to inquire about my mom, and/or to ask if I needed anything. You all were – and are – blessings to me. To the medical staff of Archbold Hospital and the staff and managment of The Plaza Restaurant, I have no words except “thank you.”
Kintsukuroi as a noun is “the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer – with the understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.” My heart – broken this time last week – is more whole once more because my mother is much better. I’m once again whole because of God’s grace. Because of you. I got by with a lot of help from my friends. Please continue to pray for Dr. Jones. To me, she’s even more beautiful today as a result of her trauma last Friday.
The point is: as human beings, we’re fragile. We all get broken from time to time. But in those times, God is always there to fix us. He always repairs us with gold as only He can – knowing that we are even more beautiful for having been broken. Hence the term, kintsukuroi.