Too often I used to stop by Mama's and find her with that look in her eye. I'd know it the moment I walked in, so I silently curse myself for picking that time to drop by.
Several years ago, an obituary in the Atlanta paper caught my eye and I clipped it out. I ran across it recently and, again as then, I found myself fascinated by how it summed up the man who died and what that summation says about our society.
You may recall past columns where I wrote of my friend, Stevie, who rescues distressed 'possums and then influenced me to do the same when I found an injured 'possum on my front porch.
I wrote of that experience, noting how sweet the 'possum was and how Stevie and I should start a nonprofit for the preservation of 'possum.
It may seem surprising to you - for it is to me - that I, the undeniable embodiment of all things Southern, should become so fascinated by a Yankee.
Right then and there in the Los Angeles International Airport, I thought I was going to have to pitch a conniption fit. That, to explain a conniption fit properly, is when a woman of Southern origin creates a scene of dramatic wailing and gnashing of teeth.
As life stretches on, it is always a blessing to share a history with those who know you well. It is a bond that cannot be fabricated, for it is created by the times and stories you mutually share over many years.
When it becomes your unfortunate lot to be orphaned in life, you recollect a great deal about your parents, reflecting back on many things including the wisdom they passed along.
The subject of homecoming queens started in the odd way that some topics enter into a conversation. It really had nothing to do with what we were discussing but then, in a very real way, it did.
I'd always heard that love - or rather the loss of it - could drive a woman crazy. Push her plum to the edge and sometimes even push her over it until she was in a free fall that landed her slab dab in the middle of crazy.
A friend e-mailed to remind me of something I had long forgotten.
My worse fears are about to be realized: Mama has announced her intentions to write a book.
For a couple of years, I had been trying to get Mama to write my column one week.
To be quite frank, I don't remember from where the idea arose. It could have been at the suggestion of one of two friends or - and this is quite possible - it was my own bright idea.
Sophie Rose was not, in the assessment of other women, what you would call "pretty."
It is not certain how we got on the subject but somehow a friend mentioned that when he dies, he wants "What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong to be played at his funeral.
Their histories, accurate and complete, are lost to time and buried with them and those who knew them. I wish I knew more, for their stories would read like a page-turning novel.
My grandmother, Daddy's mother, was sometimes called "crazy" by others who didn't quite understand her eccentric ways.
It was an early summer morning, an enchanting time when flowers are blooming, blackberries are spurting to full growth and the birds are happy to have sunny warmth. I had taken myself out to the back porch where often I settle down to write after I have finished a gentle run.
Mama used to fry biscuits. If you knew Mama, that doesn't surprise you because she fried every food possible. In the course of her life, I knew her to fry green beans, corn, grits and cornmeal mush.
There are many things I love about the South. We're fiercely patriotic. We're neighborly. We're storytellers without equal. We're unabashedly and unapologetically faithful. We're proudly hospitable.
In the tiny country church where I spent most of the first 22 years of my life, where I found the Lord at the age of 11, where without fail I had the leading part in every Christmas pageant and where my daddy laid down the law in more ways than one, we sang hymns from a brown songbook and a green one, both filled with the haunting melodies that have penetrated the Appalachians for many decades.
Not long ago, a friend of mine was huffing, puffing and carrying on something awful about an injustice she had recently suffered. She had dealt with someone rather devious and the result was, well, rather devious.
Somewhere along the line, it seems, people have stopped talking about the American dream.
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