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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Old Home Week

Dear Mom,

What better way to spend my first birthday without you than by being in Quincy with Dad?

He is doing so well in his stroke recovery. I'm really proud of him for all the changes he's made in life...including quitting smoking!!! This summer, when he couldn't drive for several weeks, he decided there was no better time to quit. And -- just like most things, when he gets ready to do it and puts his mind to it -- he did it! Yeah!!

Dad's preacher is really affirming of the positive changes he's made over the past seven years or so -- getting back into regular church attendance, and even singing in the choir. He's really changed his life since he sold the farm.

For my birthday supper, we went to the Whipporwill at Lake Talquin. Back to our roots! Aunt Judith, Uncle Jerry, and Aunt Sandy came too. (We saw Wes and Judy there...she's part of the family, as she was Ashley and Suzy's favorite babysitter.) We stopped by Mimi's old lake house for a quick peek...knowing Mrs. Taylor wouldn't mind, as she'd told Aunt Judith so.

That place is like a time capsule!! If you look carefully, you can still see your favorite feature of the porch, the perfectly-placed rail designed for feet proppin' while rockin'...

Even the old glider is still there!

Perhaps now is a good time to confess I once "broke into" the lake house porch with a boy? It was senior year, and we used a credit card to flip open the screen porch door and made out on the glider. I actually have a photo of the "perpetrator," as he attended a ski party at Don and Mary Lil's with me. HA!! Amanda may be the only one with the detective skills to crack the case.

No need to flaunt the evidence, but there ya have it...just in case anybody still needs to be disabused of the notion I am a goody-two-shoes.

(Then again, maybe I should treasure the possibility while it's still out there, before "the book" shares some of my more colorful dating tales. And how could I not? Who else has been kissed in Rio, London, Quincy and NYC. Heck, I even went to Beirut with an old boyfriend. Why not?!)

But, to get back on a less scandalous note, being back down at Lake Talquin, looking out at that old, familiar view, was like holding hands again with a long-lost friend.
When I was in college (or high school?), I wrote an essay about the fact that the lake house was the place where you and Dad never fought, where you seemed the most in love. It made sense when Mimi sold it, but it was still sad.

That's how losing things is, isn't it? Even when you know it's time to let something go, you still feel so very sad when it's gone. You look back, savor the memories, wish you could just rewind a bit.

I guess that's why it's so therapeutic for me to spend time in Quincy right now, with people who know, who remember, who miss you too.

And who helped to raise me!

On Saturday night, I was at Winn Dixie, picking up a few things for supper. ("Lynsley? No. She never did marry. I saw her on Saturday night at the Winn Dixie, sorting through the frozen shrimp. Bless her heart!)

First I checked to see if they had any goat case I found time to make the tomato pie I was craving from Peggy's house. Bingo!!

I posted the photo on Facebook, so Angus's Sally would see it, continuing your "inside joke" with her. When you died, she wrote the cutest thing about how you were like goat cheese at the Winn Dixie -- a rare gem! And...funny enough, I ran into Wil, her brother-in-law, in the checkout lane. I owe him a call.

And Miss Judy was there! Not buying ingredients for apple cakes, believe it or not. But of course she was doing something thoughtful for someone else, just like she always does. We had a great chat to catch up on her "grands," and her trip to Switzerland to see "the other Smith family." I reminded her to follow the Gospel of Cheryl, and not to be afraid to spend a day in her PJs every now and then to recover from all of that traveling and doing for others.

We took a "selfie" to send to Adam. And he sent one right back, but we'd already wrapped up our lengthy chat.

(Incidentally...I enjoyed seeing everyone so much...I spent all morning Saturday just chatting my way around the neighborhood, with marathon sessions at Betty's house, Patsy's house, and Suzie's house.

"Maybe I should be a therapist," I joked to MaBet.

"Now, Lynsley. Think about it. How would you make a living? You could only see two patients a day!" she teased. Touche, MaBet! Touche!)

Traveling back to my native land allows me to experience new local delicacies...
I was horrified and disgusted when I saw this! It elicited 45 "likes" and 35 "comments" on Facebook, mostly people wondering if I would try it. Or just pontificating about the wretched state of nutrition in America.

Well...I had to try it. There is a "bologna story" that I know will start my memoir, even if I haven't technically written it down yet. So, it's this poetic irony that will be so perfect -- a story that goes full circle -- people will think I made it up. Thank God I have so many witnesses to testify to its truth! Who else could write a book that is gonna start...and end...with connections to two different Hardee's?! Remember how my first apartment in Dothan was behind Hardee's near the Ross Clark Circle, how I could hear the drive-thru speaker if I left the windows open? Maybe they can host a book signing?!

Bottom line: that biscuit is actually pretty darn tasty! Dad and I split one, and we both enjoyed every greasy bite.

Aunt Tillie is working hard to get Dad on a "heart healthy" diet, but he was so discouraged by eating bland, tasteless food, I just had to let him have a treat or two. We enjoyed many delicious peaches Tillie and Harry got on their way through South Carolina for the Labor Day weekend family gathering that Leigh Ann and I missed while we were at Seabrook with the Thompsons.

And speaking of the Thompsons...of course I had to check on my little munchkins!! Benjamin "won" a six-pack of root beer when we made a bet about something at the beach. I had to deliver! I dropped off his winnings and asked if the boys would like to go for a ride in the Thunderbird, my wheels for the week. Ranie even got them dolled up in outfits to match my top. Is she a hoot or what?!

And of course you can count on William for your daily chuckle. As we pulled up to MaBet's house, William asked, "Aunt Lynsley? How come you spend so much time at MaBet's house? Is she your grandmama too?"

I suppose the A answer would have been, "Well...sorta."

But that little Benjamin is a hoot himself. Dare I say we have the next "legal eagle" in the Thompson family?

Ranie: Benjamin, put on some shoes if you want to ride with Aunt Lynsley in the Transformer Car. Any shoes. I don't care which ones.

Benjamin: Okay! I'm ready. You said "any shoes."
I have high hopes he will attend Duke Law School when the time comes...perhaps Aunt Lynsley will have some "publisher's clearing house" winnings for her scholarship fund by then! (If he's smart, he'll clip and save this blog, just like I did that time Dr. Johnny promised he'd pay for me to go to law school. It happened out at Jane and Craig's house.)

And speaking  of...

A few weeks ago, I sent Jane a message:

You know that cross-stitch sign you've always had in your kitchen? "When life gives you lemons...make lemonade." Well, if Mary Hilliard and the "real relatives" don't want that when you die, can you please put my name on it?

She wrote back immediately to inform me that thing was in the attic, and there was no need to wait for her departure. I could have it right now! She found it for me, and Dad and I stopped by to pick it up on our way to the golf club for supper with the Maxwells -- and, as it turned out, the rest of town. What a scene!

All of that motherly love -- the mama birds of the neigborhood, who've rallied to care for your baby birds -- even if we "oughta" be mama birds ourselves by now -- is just about the sweetest kind of lemonade life has to offer.

What better way to heal yourself than by spending time around the ladies who bathed you and fed you when you played with their baby boys and girls?

I had a good ol' walk through the cemetery with Miss Beth, who loves to tell the tale of being in the hospital to deliver Ashley at the same time you were there for Leigh Ann. These are the ties that bind, in the sweetest, most delightful way, because they don't feel like chains or ropes -- I've been free to come and go from Quincy for ages now. They're more like a bungee cord that keeps you from breaking your neck when you jump off a bridge, or a tether that keeps a hot air balloon grounded as it refuels.

And as I live this new, creative life, I can't believe all of the "gas stations" that keep popping up to fuel me and heal me as I try to figure out how one can fly and stay grounded, all at the time time.

It's a bit like wandering around with an iPhone all day -- finding that balance of getting juiced up, staying fully charged, plugging in at the right points and right times.

Writing has always been a way I both release and recharge -- review, recap, recount. All those important Rs that help us live a full, educated life. Counting and recounting. Even an English major can appreciate the importance of knowing how to do math, especially when she worked in banking for ten years!

I kid you not -- here's the song that appeared when I went to church with Dad.

Several of your "converted" Baptist friends apparently still consider it the gospel truth that "there's no hymnal like a Baptist hymnal." I can hear Tillie and Mimi chiming in with a hearty "amen!" Even you would admit First Baptist Church of Quincy had the best music ministry in town. 

Heck, even Miss Crystle might agree. I shared the hymn with her and said it made me thankful for the fact she taught me -- and others -- how to read the one truly universal language: MUSIC!

So, while you are certainly a fount of my many blessings, it was a big village that raised this child. Look what Miss Sheila gave me when she was teaching me Sunday School, the year I joined the church: 

Inside, she wrote an inscription, encouraging me to use the pages to record what she prayed would be many joys and only occasional sorrows:

"It not only helps to write things down -- one day you will enjoy reading your writings, remembering and seeing how much you've grown!"

Whoa -- who says the Bible is the only place prophetic words are written and spoken?!

Because I have indeed grown, haven't I? Haven't we all? One of the loveliest aspects of aging is celebrating the beautiful truth in that paradox, "the more things change...the more they stay the same."

We lose...we gain...we mourn our losses, and we count our blessings. And we celebrate that you can, indeed, go home again. Because -- until the fat lady sings (or a slender one, if we're talking about last December) -- you're never too old, and it's never too late for new beginnings.

Those of y'all in the choir -- can I get an Amen? 




Dee Stephens said...

I was wondering if they were going to actually have goat cheese at Winn Dixie! I'm shocked myself! As for the bologna sammy.. Can't believe you tried that! LOL! Glad your Dad is doing well.

Amanda Handley said...


Sarah Franklin said...


Emily said...

AMEN!! Love you!!