Of course, I'll be having black-eyed peas and collard greens for New Year's Day. It has become more than a tradition. It's almost downright superstition, though I hate to admit that.
When Mama was a small girl growing up in the Nimblewill Valley in the Appalachian foothills, it was the midst of the Great Depression. As she often said, "Times were hard but it's all we knew so we didn't know how poor we were."
There's a woman I'm looking for. Perhaps you know where she is. If you do, please help me find her again.
(Editor's note: This is the second installment of a three-part series. It is running over a five week period rather than three consecutive weeks.)
In those days - the ones of my cherished youth - my cousin, Ronnie, a year older than I, worked for my daddy. Ronnie had cotton-colored hair and a face that, like mine, was smattered with freckles. He had what the lucky ones on Daddy's side of the family inherit: a quick-thinking sense of humor that is succinct, clever and smart.
His name is Charles Almerin Tinker and he was the great-great-grandfather of my beloved. "Charlie Tinker," I sometimes hear my husband say as he passes the large framed photo. "You're spinning in your grave. Your picture is hanging in the home of a Confederate." The stunningly clear portrait is of four distinguished, gray-whiskered men dressed in suits with vests, ties and winged-collar white shirts gathered around a heavy, round mahogany table. Three are seated and ...
It seems to me that a lot of young people have it easy. Too many kids in high school and college are shielded from work and not taught the importance of money or of earning it. It seems to me that this is a major default in the education of life.
Nicole and I were working out together one day and for some reason, she brought up a self-help, faith-related book we had both read. The thesis, basically, is how men are born with wild hearts, which should be admired not restrained by women.
There I was, sitting at my desk, writing away, bothering no one when my phone rang. It was Hollywood calling.
It all started with a break-in, then continued to a breaking point when a crazy woman showed up at my door, ranting about aliens who had landed at her house. She needed me to write an article to warn their commander not to send them back to her house.
It's a funny thing about us Southerners. If a Yankee criticizes us, we haughtily disregard it, muttering over their ignorance.
One night while out to dinner, I noticed an elegant elderly lady at the next table over who was dining alone. I was drawn to her because sorrow clouded her eyes and she smiled sadly, the kind we all force when we do not feel happy.
Not long ago, I was in Los Angeles visiting Tink on the set of a television show he was executive producing. We sat side-by-side in director chairs, watching as the scene was set up and actors took their place. I looked across Tink to see a woman studying me carefully. I smiled.
When I was growing up - probably well into my college years - Mama's last words as I walked out the door were always the same.
One evening I was sorting through clothes in the bedroom while Tink, settled in a comfortable chair, was (as usual) fiddling with his phone. A message he read triggered a story.
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.
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.
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