You know how attics are. They're filled with junk, Christmas stuff and memories you can't toss away.
When I think back on the days of my youth, that time when I had the privilege of traveling on the NASCAR circuit, it would be hard to pick a lesson learned more important than another.
Lately, I've been thinking about the treasure trove that can be found in life's challenging times - the wisdom, the victories, the emotional muscle built and, of course, the stories.
When business called Tink back to Los Angeles, he decided to take the opportunity to have his annual checkup. When it ended, he called home.
As an unusually mild, rainy summer was melting away, or rather frosting its way, into autumn, I took to noticing signs that mountain people have always used to judge the forthcoming severity of winter.
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.
Some missing something or the other required me to prowl through closets at Mama's house. That's when I found it. I pulled it out and smiled broadly, warmed by the memories it evoked.
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.
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.
One afternoon, I had a hankering, a primal-like craving, for a supper of pinto beans and cornbread with a tall glass of cold, rich buttermilk thrown in for good measure and extra filling.
Over the years, I've crossed paths with many people who were extremely successful as well as some who were such miserable failures that, as Mama liked to say, "ain't worth the breath they draw."
That apple tree. Oh my goodness. Something told me it wouldn't turn out well.
This happened years ago. Mama was alive then, so it's been seven or eight years. I hadn't thought about it in almost that many years, but when it came to mind the other day, I took to studying on it and how the circumstances and opportunities of life's journey can be so fascinating.
Yes, I know that I am, occasionally, prone to embellishment. But trust me when I say this is the law and the gospel: I have a longtime friend who only calls me when someone dies. Most times I know the person, but sometimes I don't have a clue the person ever existed.
A friend of mine, long embroiled in upsets, distractions, problems and tribulations, called one day to announce happily she was learning to "let things roll right off my back."
It's a funny thing. That's what Mama used to say when something baffled her.
When Miss Ondia Mae died at 75, those of us who knew her marveled that she had managed to make it to the end of her life without winding up in the poorhouse.
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