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.
A major New York publisher sent a review copy of a much-touted novel called "If Jack's In Love." Because I write about the South, and because this book had won the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction, the book's publicist followed up with an email.
If Tink had any hesitation about coming into a traditional Southern family, there was only one: our happy, colorful Easter parade. The one we have every year - rain or shine - when we return to Louise's and Rodney's house after church and before the ridiculously big meal we have.
It has long been my belief that the dreams tucked into our hearts are the compass we're given to find our direction in life. Children know at an early age what they're called to do. Sadly, too few grow up to follow that calling because life's demands and sensibilities get in the way.
Before I say this, just know that I am not bragging. I am sure that this is not anything to brag about. But you and I are friends and I always endeavor to be honest with you so you should know the truth.
It is of paramount importance that I teach my husband how to be a Southerner, at least a half-decent one if not one of regal bearing.
Back in the summer, unwillingly, I would rise early and take a run to beat some of the oppressive heat and humidity that smothers the South when the sun inches higher in the sky. Many mornings, I encountered something that would stick with me for the rest of the run.
Little Danny McGuire was the scrawniest kid in class. He was so frail, so downright skinny that his dungarees clung to his bony hips, only thanks to a well-worn brown belt that was pulled tight to the last notch, causing the fabric to gather in folds. What a sight he made with blue jeans cinched to the waist and little ol' legs hidden somewhere in the yards of material.
Mama's favorite phrase when I was growing up - particularly during the defiant teenage years, especially when I sassed her - was "you're gonna pay for your raising one day, little lady. Let me assure you of that. You just wait until you have children and see how they behave."
Boy, can people be mean. I'm thinking particularly of a reader named Samantha, whose scolding of me turned into a scalding.
Occasionally, someone truly interested in the art of writing will ask me, "What does it take to be a writer?"
A few years back, someone I knew ever so slightly died. Though I didn't know him well, I knew him to be mean, egoistical and quite a bully.
My husband was out of town working on location when he called one night and discovered I was still working though the hour had grown late.
It happened a few months back. My father-in-law celebrated, to our great joy, his 88th birthday.
It happened the other day. It's funny how things so simple can remind us of things so meaningful, of those sweets tucked inside our hearts and unknowingly treasured.
My parents, according to the world's definition of "cool," were not.
A few years ago, the magazine I have long loved - Southern Living - changed.
Several weeks ago, I wrote about moonshine runner turned stock car champion, Lloyd Seay, who was murdered in a dispute about sugar purchased to make illegal whiskey.
There are few who cannot say truthfully they miss their parents after death has laid claim to those loved ones. The parents who taught us, scolded us and, at times, annoyed us are never forgotten, never put away on a shelf to be remembered no more.
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.
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