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.
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.
In this house of wood and stones that I call home, there are books scattered and stacked hither and yon.
When I breezed into the beauty shop amidst the chatter of voices and clatter of hair dryers and curling irons, I noticed the thick book dropped casually in a chair and it struck me as a bit strange.
It was a sweet sight, no doubt. My heart is always drawn to God's animal creatures, especially those who have found themselves abandoned.
One day I asked a friend how her son was doing in college. She smiled then began a discourse on how he was enjoying his field of study and what he could do with his degree when he graduated.
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."
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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