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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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