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.
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.
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.
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.
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