Any self-respecting Southern woman has a list of casserole recipes a mile long ready to bake at a moment's notice.
Mama had great stories. My favorite was the only one I asked for her to repeat often. It has become something of an anthem in my life.
By chance, we happened upon him in a small gift shop. The clerk recognizing me laughed and said, "What a coincidence! She just bought a copy of your book!" She gestured toward a small woman browsing through a group of men's sweaters.
She said it, of course, with smirk. Those women who really don't understand the ways of the women of the South seem to always speak about us in words vividly cloaked in disdain.
(This is the third installment of a three-part series about Charlie Tinker.)
"Some day," Daddy used to say often as I was growing up, "I'm going to the Holy Land. I want to walk where Jesus walked."
Years ago when Mama was widowed, it became suddenly and shockingly clear she wasn't completely capable of being on her own. This was news to us, because she had always stepped up and did whatever it took to look after our family. She was quite ingenious and hardworking.
(This is the second of a three-part series on the discoveries made after a visit to Charlie Tinker's grave.)
The renowned bow maker in my hometown died. Only in the South would this probably be news because we Southern women do admire a well-wrapped package.
The way she was, was a long way from what she became. I can't help thinking about how life veers so far away from the beginning of the journey and how the destination can vary drastically from where it all started.
Editor's note: This is the first installment of a three-part series on Charlie.
There's nothing glamorous about being a farmer, nothing charming, little endearing and certainly few things easy about it. It is either a calling or a curse, depending on how one looks at it. Some are born into it and some just can't find a way to escape it for it's all they've ever known.
Oh, the stories people tell. Not always good ones, mind you, but the kind that will make you fall down on your knees and thank the good Lord up above you don't have a story like that.
Over lunch the other day with friends - all in the newspaper business - I mentioned I occasionally speak at writers' conferences.
Around the corner, out in the country where we live, is a hardware store owned by a guy I have known since the day I was born. Our bassinets were next to each other in the hospital nursery.
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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