Homecoming — food, friends and connectedness
May 15, 2016
Y’all bear with me tonight. This isn’t a food post.
Well, it kinda is, because I certainly ate my share of it this weekend, between snacky stuff at a bridal shower, catfish at one of the best catfish restaurants in the MidSouth, and pot-luck dinner at my home church today. As is obvious above, I did not come home hungry. I may not eat the rest of the week, in fact.
But mostly, this weekend was about friends, family, and being connected.
Like this. This is a photo of the resting places of three generations of my family: My parents, on the left; my paternal grandmother in the center, and my great-grandparents on the right. They rest in the cemetery of the church in which I grew up, amid many other friends and family members. I walked through the cemetery this morning, remembering different ones as the names on the tombstones brought their faces to mind.
And then I came home to my daughter, after picking up a grandchild on the way. So that’s six generations of my family (counting me) I’ve touched today. It’s a good day when you can do that.
And friends. Like these. Donna, Jerry and Bobby, aka “Flash.” Friends since we were in diapers. Bible School, Sunday school, UMYF, not to mention 1-12 together (well, 2-11, as Flash is a year ahead of Jerry and me, who are in turn a year older than Donna).
Donna was my best friend; we lived just down the road from each other, and were as comfortable at each other’s house as at our own. Bobby was the newsman, a radio personality before he left high school. And Jerry was the guy everyone loved, the biggest Vanderbilt fan in the world, the one I dragged manually through high school chemistry by the scruff of the neck and the seat of the pants and, he contends, “kept me from being the oldest living senior at Central High School.”
And we’re just the ones who were gathered up for the photo. There were also Randy and Danny and Terry and Ricky and Lisa, two sets of siblings who were double first cousins; Mark, my first boyfriend (I was 6 and he was 5); Sandra, Johnny, and Billy Wayne, who were the previous group of UMYF kids ahead of us, when my parents were young adult leaders of the group, and Walt and Andrea, who were the group just before them. There were Dayna and John; Dayna is Donna’s first cousin, and John is kin to half the church that is only kin to the other half by marriage.
There were the ones who were just enough younger than me that I remember them being “the kids.” There was Lori, who was the speaker this morning, and told a wonderful story about how her experiences and memories from the church constituted her “faith quilt.” Lori’s a grandmother now, and I’m not certain how that happened because surely she is just 12! And when I think of Lisa, I think of her singing since she was so tiny her parents had to stand her up in a chair to reach the microphone, and now, somehow, she has a son who’s in the process of making it big on the Nashville music scene (y’all kepe an eye out for a band called Levon, and a guitarist/singer named Ryan Holladay). And she’s still about 12, too.
And on the other end of the generational spectrum, there were Randy and Danny’s parents, Fred and Inez, who are among the few surviving members of my parents’ generation still able to attend services. Fred was, by all accounts, a hot-shot pitcher for the neighborhood baseball team when he was a young man; my daddy was the catcher, and swore he had to fold up a handkerchief and put it inside his glove to pad his palm in order to catch a full nine innings of Fred’s fastball. There were Frances and E.J., Johnny’s parents; Frances played piano for decades, filling the Sunday morning air with old Gospel standards. And of course, there was Mary, Donna’s mother and my second mother, who crocheted baby afghans and made baby quilts for my girls just like she did her own grandchildren because, “Well, you’re family too.”
There were so many I missed today: Rex and Phil; Rex has moved away, and Phil was tending to his mother, who’s had a bad fall. Carol, whose father, a retired teacher, used to give all the kids a quarter for every A they made. Karen, who recently lost her husband; Carl and Annetta, since Carl was getting over minor surgery. DeeDee, whose mother sent everyone in the church birthday cards for years and years, until she was no longer able to do it, and whose father did the most exquisite woodwork ever. Jo Ann, whom I haven’t seen in years and would love to see again.
And the ones who are gone. My parents; Donna’s dad; Terry and Ricky and Lisa’s parents; Bobby and Andrea’s parents (who are Lori’s grandparents); DeeDee’s parents; Sandra’s parents. All part of my childhood; a million memories revolving around each one.
And in a way, I touched each one of them today, whether stopping to say a quick prayer as I saw their name in the cemetery, or as we talked about them today. All of them part of the village that raised me.
Oh, yeah. There was food. Lots of food. Chicken and ham and barbecue, sweet corn and green beans and baked beans, cole slaw and pasta salad. It is, I guess, evidence of the older generation’s demise that there was no “green stuff” or “pink stuff,” the congealed fruit salads that were standbys of all the pot lucks when I was a kid.
But there was this table of desserts.
Don’t you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em wish you’d been there?