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.
It was a couple of years before Mama just up and died, without warning and when we least expected it, that I was visiting her one day.
Somewhere along the line, it seems, people have stopped talking about the American dream.
For those of you who are faithful to this column, you will, no doubt, recall I made brand-new resolutions last year. I tossed out the old ones that I had failed at repeatedly and trudged ahead to new ones, optimistically believing that success was mine for taking.
Christmas is the time that we pack expectations into every package we wrap and for weeks anticipate that one, perfect Currier-and-Ives day.
Thousands of days filled with clouds, rain, snow or sunshine have passed, yet one lesson sticks stubbornly to my heart.
It happened recently: The 20th anniversary of the death of stock car racer Davey Allison. Maybe you remember him. Maybe you don't.
Tink had been in Los Angeles for a week so that morning before his plane left LAX, it occurred to me that a good, wifely thing to do would be to welcome him back to the Rondarosa with a home-cooked meal.
If New Year's is a time to regroup and look toward the upcoming year, then Thanksgiving is a time to gather and reflect on the year that has passed.
We had a funeral at church the other day which was not unusual.
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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