A few months ago when Poet, the freelance wanderer that he is, found himself passing through my neck of the South, he called up, then turned up at my front door, then plopped down in my guest room for a few days.
One Sunday morning I came breezing into Sunday School class after having been out of town for a week. My sister grabbed me and hugged me tightly to welcome me home.
In the home in which I grew up, the daily newspaper was almost as important to our everyday lives as the Bible.
Like any self-respecting Southerner, it's hard for me to pass up reading a well-written obituary. Especially when it runs in the Wall Street Journal and begins by saying she was "a dash of Southern class in a raucous old boys club."
It is the absence of simple things that has made life so complicated. Those simple things cost nothing yet can make you feel like a million bucks.
When our friendship was new and still most interesting, Poet sought to impress me. But when the new wore off, Poet cast me into the ring with his other friends who are familiar and comfortable, so there is no longer a need to impress.
Unlike many people, I'm not a maker of New Year's resolutions. Mainly because when I see the need for change or improvement, I resolve to fix it then, even if it's July 23 or Oct. 1. I don't wait until the first of the year.
Last year's best present was from neither friend nor loved one. It was gifted to me by life. One of those rare lessons that grows more beautiful in memory as time passes.
There is a friend I have who cannot, for the life of her, tell a story.
For some reason, I've always loved full moons. Every time I see one, I stop in my tracks, fully absorb and appreciate its beauty and then thank the good Lord that I lived to see another beautiful full moon.
It's true. Some things you have to see to believe. And then, even though you're certain of the reliability of your own eyes, you don't believe it.
Thanksgiving is a time to come together and celebrate a family's beloved characters, the ones who give us many stories to declare and laughter to share.
Funny how situations in life can slip up on you and turn your feelings completely around.
Every trip to the beauty shop is, for me, an adventure in some way. And without fail, it's immensely entertaining.
It wasn't intended to be a long conversation, but I should have known better than that. No call to Poet is ever abbreviated.
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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