(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.
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.
Southerners tend to collect stories. And, we tend to talk to anyone who will talk to us. The latter tends to lead to the first.
Not a day goes by that I don't think of Mama or do something the way she taught me.
It was somewhere near the end of summer when it just come to me that perhaps my writing days were over. That it was time to just give up the ghost and move on from making a living as a writer and just settle into handling daily problems.
It is a blessing of a life to know common man philosophers. Those people, though not formally educated, are plenty smart when it comes to sizing up life.
It is, I believe, a distinct and unique trait of the South the way we carry on long conversations with people we are passing in the loaf bread section of the grocery store or in the checkout line.
One day during lunch, a friend and I were talking about the murderous felons we know as Tink quietly listened.
More than any other region, Southerners love nicknames.
Back in the autumn as the leaves began to hint of enchanting oranges, yellows and reds to come, we took a Monday off and headed to the state fair.
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