It was in Oxford, Miss., that it came to me so clearly. I knew it, of course. I had known it since I was a child skirted in gingham innocence and trimmed with inexperience.
It takes a lot of time to be the proper Southerner, the kind respected for thoughtfulness and kindness.
It was at lunch after a morning revival service last summer that a few of us sat around, munching on Southern casseroles and talking about one of the most memorable mothers any of us had ever known.
When I was 6, the boy with hair the color of cotton and eyes tinted sapphire came to live with us. He was the same age and size as I but more timid and less secure.
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.
Before Thanksgiving, as I 'juned' around the kitchen - a mountain word Mama used to mean "fast moving" - preparing for company, it occurred to me that I should invite Jerry.
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.
Not long ago, I watched a couple of documentaries on ESPN about the Southeastern Conference called, "SEC: Storied."
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.
For at least 20 years, maybe 25, Mama planned her home-going to heaven. Not a week - and sometimes not a day - went by when she did not use her impending date with mortality in some way.
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