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.
It happened in Memphis. A lot of history and interesting stuff occurs in that magical city that sits grandly next to the Mississippi River. Elvis held court there, the blues grew up there and barbecue is queen. Elvis, of course, is still king.
The waitress set down the cup of coffee and I poured cream into the hot, black liquid while quietly reflecting, pondering something.
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.
I remember more clearly than any other holiday the many Easters of my life.
A while back, a messy problem loomed ahead.
It has become somewhat of an art for me, that of studying Southern culture and deciphering what makes us different from others as well as downright peculiar among ourselves.
One Sunday while sitting around the dinner table, Louise and I began to tell Daddy stories. You know the ones that stretched back to the early days of his preaching life.
To this conclusion I have come: The most deadly years of our lives are the ages 16 to 21. Those years give us a headiness that comes from new freedom - a driver's license - and the passing of the torch from strict childhood rules to more trust, different restraints and relaxed curfews.
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.
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