It seems too many loved ones recently have said goodbye to this vale of grief and sorrow and said hello to sweet eternity. Heaven is blessed, but I am distressed.
In the past several years, I have had as much luck visiting the historically preserved home of iconic Southern writer Eudora Welty as I would have had when she was alive. The front door is always shut to me.
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.
A major New York publisher sent a review copy of a much-touted novel called "If Jack's In Love." Because I write about the South, and because this book had won the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction, the book's publicist followed up with an email.
If Tink had any hesitation about coming into a traditional Southern family, there was only one: our happy, colorful Easter parade. The one we have every year - rain or shine - when we return to Louise's and Rodney's house after church and before the ridiculously big meal we have.
It has long been my belief that the dreams tucked into our hearts are the compass we're given to find our direction in life. Children know at an early age what they're called to do. Sadly, too few grow up to follow that calling because life's demands and sensibilities get in the way.
Before I say this, just know that I am not bragging. I am sure that this is not anything to brag about. But you and I are friends and I always endeavor to be honest with you so you should know the truth.
It is of paramount importance that I teach my husband how to be a Southerner, at least a half-decent one if not one of regal bearing.
Back in the summer, unwillingly, I would rise early and take a run to beat some of the oppressive heat and humidity that smothers the South when the sun inches higher in the sky. Many mornings, I encountered something that would stick with me for the rest of the run.
Little Danny McGuire was the scrawniest kid in class. He was so frail, so downright skinny that his dungarees clung to his bony hips, only thanks to a well-worn brown belt that was pulled tight to the last notch, causing the fabric to gather in folds. What a sight he made with blue jeans cinched to the waist and little ol' legs hidden somewhere in the yards of material.
Mama's favorite phrase when I was growing up - particularly during the defiant teenage years, especially when I sassed her - was "you're gonna pay for your raising one day, little lady. Let me assure you of that. You just wait until you have children and see how they behave."
Boy, can people be mean. I'm thinking particularly of a reader named Samantha, whose scolding of me turned into a scalding.
Occasionally, someone truly interested in the art of writing will ask me, "What does it take to be a writer?"
It was one of those days. The kind when you have a lot of work to do and none of it you want to do so you just piddle.
One evening back in late spring, I returned home from two weeks of flitting through major airports and hurrying bare-footed through security sensors. I was bone-weary from cramped planes - the center seat too many times - and delayed flights.
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.
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.
A friend said something the other day that has clung like mist to the crevices of my mind. She's soon to turn 70 and this is what she said:
Here, I'll announce something I've never admitted publicly. I love going barefooted. It's how I was raised.
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