Close to Nowhere
I was talking to my high school best friend the other day (she lives in Crossville, Tenn., and we were "talking" via Facebook) and the conversation drifted to her mother. I loved Mrs. Avent. She put up with so much from Cecilia and me.
We loved Otis Redding, one song in particular, "These Arms of Mine." We played that 45 record on my little portable record player, in her living room, over and over and over. We could shut ourselves up in there and stay out of her parents' hair. We brought our boyfriends there too sometimes.
Mrs. Avent told me, long after I'd married and we'd all moved away, that she hated Otis Reeding and "These Arms of Mine." She got so sick of it. But she never once complained to us about it.
I still make a casserole that she gave me the recipe for after I married. She used to make it for us a lot.
Pop's late mother and grandmother were huge influences on me also. My mother was a Yankee and she didn't know how to cook Southern (according to my dad, but I liked what she cooked).
But Jimmie (Pop's mom) and Ma (his grandmother) were real Southern country cooks. They did cook differently than my mother. I discovered "real" fried okra at Jimmie's house. When I was expecting Dana, I didn't crave ice cream and pickles. I craved fried okra. And Jimmie and Ma cooked it for me probably five times a week. Doyle (who was Butch, who became Pop) worked second shift and every night I'd walk down the street to Jimmie and Clifford's house, where it was extremely unusual not to find fried okra.
Growing up, I felt like I had two mothers, one much stricter than the other. Thelma, my real mother, was softer and easy-going (unless you made her really mad). But my sister Peggy, who was eight years older than me, was mean (or so I thought at the time). She'd make fudge and hide it and I'd always find it and eat it all. She'd be mad.
When she and her friends played softball, I'd cry until Mama would make her let me play. Then I only wanted to bat. When they went to the movies I'd cry and Mama would make her take me. She'd pinch me during the movies if I did the least little thing. I imagine I was a rotten little sister.
We did become friends after I grew up and got married. We visited and enjoyed each other a lot. Peggy died a few years after my mother. Most of the women I loved and were "mothered" by are gonenow. I spent Mother's Day thinking about them and laughing at the memories.
Thank God for Memory Lane.