My parents told great stories.
Just as Tink started up the stairs, stepping slowly and carefully as he balanced a bowl and a cup of coffee to keep them from sloshing, I appeared around the corner. I paused, watched and debated silently as to whether to speak.
When Peggy Sue went away, just fell off the face of the earth with no warning or even a holler, we all wondered where she had gone.
Recently, I was in a bookstore with a friend. We stopped at a table near the front of the store and it was loaded with different books that had such obscene titles that many of the words were expressed as "@?*#."
Mama was stubborn. "Set in her ways," is what country folks call it and boy, was she. When she made up her mind, nothing stopped her. Especially when she set her jaw and punctuated her declaration with a firm nod of her head. If she also threw that crooked forefinger in your direction, you knew it was set in stone. Destined to be.
One day over lunch, my new-to-the-South-but-thoroughly-loving-it husband commented on the choir singing at our church, which is led by my brother-in-law, Rodney.
It seems too many loved ones recently have said goodbye to this vale of grief and sorrow and said hello to sweet eternity. Heaven is blessed, but I am distressed.
In the past several years, I have had as much luck visiting the historically preserved home of iconic Southern writer Eudora Welty as I would have had when she was alive. The front door is always shut to me.
To be downright honest, I never expected to miss him this much. And, if the deeper truth be told, perhaps it isn't just the loss of a singular man, though great and admirable he was.
A major New York publisher sent a review copy of a much-touted novel called "If Jack's In Love." Because I write about the South, and because this book had won the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction, the book's publicist followed up with an email.
If Tink had any hesitation about coming into a traditional Southern family, there was only one: our happy, colorful Easter parade. The one we have every year - rain or shine - when we return to Louise's and Rodney's house after church and before the ridiculously big meal we have.
It has long been my belief that the dreams tucked into our hearts are the compass we're given to find our direction in life. Children know at an early age what they're called to do. Sadly, too few grow up to follow that calling because life's demands and sensibilities get in the way.
Before I say this, just know that I am not bragging. I am sure that this is not anything to brag about. But you and I are friends and I always endeavor to be honest with you so you should know the truth.
It is of paramount importance that I teach my husband how to be a Southerner, at least a half-decent one if not one of regal bearing.
Back in the summer, unwillingly, I would rise early and take a run to beat some of the oppressive heat and humidity that smothers the South when the sun inches higher in the sky. Many mornings, I encountered something that would stick with me for the rest of the run.
Coming home one Sunday from the family dinner after church, I said out of the blue, "I feel like we should volunteer for vacation Bible school."
My people, as I have long said, were raised on hard times in the Appalachian foothills. I don't know I had a grandparent who ever saw the sum of $500 at one time or even held a hundred dollar bill in hand.
It was over Sunday dinner that my sister told me what I did not know.
It started accidentally. Some good ideas and memorable moments are like that. They aren't planned. They're born, bringing with them an ability to nudge a way naturally into our lives and become a tradition.
My sister and I stood in the charred remains of a life that once was and did not say a word. What was there to say?
To be honest, I was more than a mite worried. I was plenty worried.
It often amazes me how many words of kindness and encouragement I receive for the stories I tell.
You may be surprised to learn people sometimes disagree with me.
Sometimes, I look across our yard and sigh somewhat woefully, "Too much of that stubborn red Georgia clay shines through." I think, "Oh, one day." I have been thinking this for six or seven years.
Hollywood, more often than not, gets it wrong about the South in movies and television. When they do get it right, we Southerners are amazed and appreciative.
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