Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bits & Pieces of Memorial Weekend

On Friday night, Matt drove two traffic-less hours to spend the weekend with our brother, Kelsay, giving me a couple days alone with the family and the whole air mattress to myself. I decided against locking myself in our room and sought out to get some one on one time with each person. 

Through bird watching, cooking and chasing many tiny dogs around, I enjoyed the company of each family member. One of my favorite moments of the weekend was out on the porch with Grandma. We sat with plates of buttermilk pie on our laps and listened as the backyard came alive with the humming of crickets.   I'm getting use to the quiet moments around here. In my family, the loudest person gets heard and conversation never stops, even through movies. (You can imagine the culture shock this created for Matt and me when we got married.) Sometimes there are three or four minutes of silence with Grandma. She'll lock her fingers together, purse her lips and look quietly around, observing. Then start right in on a story. 

"I've had a hard life", she told me while still looking over the yard. I lowered my fork in anticipation of responding somehow, but she continued. She started in on stories of becoming a single mother of five and continued on, telling about her days working in the cotton fields, hiding from storms and burying her husband and eventually, her son. "I've had a hard life", she repeated, this time with a voice inflection that sounded like she was convincing herself. She sat quietly for just a moment before rising to collect the plates and going inside. I sat outside a bit longer, hoping to spot the flicker of fireflies and soaking in the life of this family. So much sorrow, so much loss and so much pain. As an incredibly fearful person, I spot bravery quickly and admire it greatly. These people are brave. (I, on the other hand, have been asking an 82 year old to stomp on the spiders that I fish out of the pool.) 

On Saturday, Grandma and I sneaked out of house to hit the Memorial Day sales. "Are you going to church with me tomorrow? You need to wear a dress." I nodded as I wondered what she thought I had been wearing the last two Sundays. In the morning, after splitting a pot of coffee on the patio, we drove the two blocks down to her church and parked in her usual spot under a willow tree. " That was for the slaves" she informed me, pointing to a rickety set of stairs winding up the side of the church. "They'd go up there and sit in the balcony." I love the way she looks at me when she's anticipating my reaction to something. 
    Later that day Matt's Aunt Amy pulled me into the kitchen. "Hey", she checked over her shoulder, "I want you to drive me to the mall so I can shop the sales." Browsing the racks at their favorite department store, Amy pulled out a sleeveless, white cotton dress. " Let's buy you some dresses. You can wear 'em to church!" After that, any item of clothing I touched she shoved into the cart. "Your birthday is coming up! You are the only niece we have, let us spoil you." I tucked most of the items back on the rack, but suddenly feeling self-conscious about my church apparel, I gave in to her buying me a couple dresses. "Now, if Matt asks, you tell him you've always had these dresses and he won't know nothin'." 

On Monday night we closed out the weekend by grilling hamburgers and eating plate-loads of warm, peach cobbler Grandma baked.

Welcome, summer! 


  1. Carly...these posts are choking me up. I don't exactly know why, but I get all emotional about them as I read. Your writing is so heartfelt. So beautiful! It's such a pleasure to read about your experiences in the south and with Matt's family. While I don't know any of the people you're writing about, I feel like by reading your stories about them, I'm gaining an understanding of their essence. You seem to seek that out in others, and I think that is so beautiful! It's a wonderful way to truly know people.

    1. Thanks for reading Car! Your comments are so thoughtful and encouraging. It is a pleasure getting to know these people and go from "Matt's wife" to "our niece/granddaughter".

  2. hahaha, this post kills me. I love Matt's family and how you handle your transition to 'bama life style.

  3. can't wait to see some pics of you in your new "church" dresses.

    i feel like i'm right there with you on the front porch, drinking sweet tea with grandma.

    i'm not surprised that you took the time alone to really pour into matt's family and deepen your relationships. it's things like that your friends can count on and part of the reason you're such a great friend to many.

    love you!

  4. Hi Ash!!!!
    Your Dad just sent me the URL for your Blog! How Awesome is this!?!?!!! What a great way to keep up with all your adventures and growing family! I'm sooooooo happy for you, and to see you blossoming into an even more Amazing Woman! I miss you sooo much on one hand, and on the other am so pleased that your life has blossomed and grown across continents! You are indeed a gift to all of us and I'm so very proud of you and all you have accomplished and continue to make a wondrous difference in this world and so many peoples lives! I cannot express in words, so I'm hoping you can 'feel' all the pride, loves and hugs being sent your way! I love and miss you and am so hoping to see you in September! God Bless and all my love! Aunt Sally (aka A. Sally) ;~) Big hugs to Matt too!