Southern Church: My (Limited) Experience

When I was a little kid, I spent a lot of time with both sets of grandparents. And spending a lot of time with them, also meant that I went to church with them every once in a while. While I don’t remember every single time that I went with them, I do remember that they were some of the best times.

Both sets were born and raised in small towns, and so they still went to small town churches when I was small. I know many people have seen them, and have probably been in them. And every small town in the South has at least two, sometimes more. They’re these small buildings, maybe 10 pews on each side, and a small piece of building off of the Sanctuary, where the kitchen and bathrooms are…if there are bathrooms, but we’ll come to that in a minute. Most of the time they have parking lots that are either dirt or gravel…and a nightmare for the ladies in fancy dresses if it’s rained.

My maternal grandfather was a Methodist preacher. It was always interesting to watch him give a sermon. I wasn’t always the most still child but there were times when I would be still while listening to him. Well maybe mostly watching…I’m not sure if I did much listening. My grandmother would always give me a pen and an extra bulletin to draw on, just to keep me occupied.

My other grandparents were Primitive Baptists. If you don’t know much about the denomination, you’ll have to Google it because I don’t know much about them either. What I do know, but not why exactly, is that they don’t play music or sing during the service. But my grandparents’ church members would sing Amazing grace for me because I love it so much. And the foot washing. I was only there once for this and don’t really remember much about it…I mean it does sound simple. The men and women would separate and wash each other’s feet.

My favorite part of any church service was what came after the sermon. Dinner on the Green. In the church yard of many, if not all, small town churches, you might have seen those huge cement tables. This is where it happens. The ladies bring out their dishes, sometimes two or three per lady, and lay them all out: Meat all together at one end; vegetables and casseroles were next; then the beautiful deserts. Cakes and pies like you would not believe!

Ok it wasn’t just the food that I liked so much about it. It was a time when people came together to share a meal, talk and laugh, and generally fellowship together. There may have been a little gossip…I mean this IS the South, but mostly, it was people talking about their lives, their children and grandchildren and the wonderful things they’d done. And even as a small child, I knew that this was important.

While those beautiful little churches still stand, many of the congregants have moved on to bigger churches in bigger towns. It’s an unfortunate thing, but it’s the way of things: people change as time goes on.


A Tribute to Mom

mother'sdayToday is Mother’s Day is the US and, like many other people, I would like to a little write about my mother. As I’ve mentioned before, she passed a little over 4 years ago. I’ll be honest with you, I still miss her a lot. I mean, it does get a little easier, but you never really get over it. I know, I’m sorry, it is a little grim. It’s the truth, though.

The very first memory I have of my mom, I was still at that stage where I slept in a crib. I was standing in that crib, watching her put on make-up. I think I was still too young to really think in words, but I do remember having strong feelings for my mom, even then.

As I grew up, I remember cuddling with her on the couch until we both fell asleep. Pretend upsets from her over my mud-covered clothes after a day spent playing outside. Even older, there were impromptu, barefoot dances in the kitchen. Lots of those kinds of dances.

Like with many mother-daughters, we didn’t always get along. There were times when I just didn’t want to talk to her and I’m sure she had those moments too. But I knew, no matter what, my mom would be there for me when I needed her. And I did need her a lot.

And I still do. Before she passed away, I honestly thought we’d have another 20 years together at least. My grandfather, her father, had lived to see 93, so I assumed that she would get close to that age as well. But it wasn’t meant to be.

So now, when coworkers or friends talk about their moms, I tell them to cherish each moment that they are fortunate enough to have. No matter how frustrating their moms can be, at least they still can have those moments, as well as those wonderful moments.

On this day, and any other day, try to spend as much time as you can with your mom.