To the family during this very sad time. please lean on the "God of All Comforts" 1 Cor.1:3-4
I'm not sure which is my fondest memory of Lucille, there were so many good times…I guess the fun sorta began about the time we would cross the Alabama State line, heading south on 85, with Ozark, Alabama our destination. I swear to goodness, I could smell the sweet aroma of fried chicken and homemade biscuits cooking long before we'd rounded the corner of Parker Drive. We were first met in the driveway by, “Doodles” the dog/mutt and numerous cats, in a plethora of color. The house instantly gave way to hugs and laughter, comments about, “how good we all looked” and a genuine happiness and appreciation that we were all together again. I guess through all of the excitement, our conversation escalated a few octaves, with each of us talking over the other, and probably sounded more like “tongues” being spoken than anything. Throughout the evening various exaggerated “tales” commenced….stories of pan size bream being caught with the first cast and fried up crunchy, bushels (hampers, as she called them) of fresh peas, hand shelled and put up for winter, rattlers (the size of your arm) being blown away with one shot down by the fish pond, the birthing of baby cows, the planting of her garden behind the house, and the latest neighborhood gossip. Within an hour, we were all “in the know” about the happenings of Ozark. Long before the sun set, I'm sure my slight Atlanta drawl was becoming a little more southern and my “Kings English” had decided to take a sabbatical. I even started saying things like, “yonder” and “ain't”. Lower Alabama just has a way of making a person “kick back” and relax.
By daybreak the next morning, I would awaken to the smells of coffee, ham, bacon, eggs, gravy, and piping hot biscuits all tantalizing my culinary senses. Needless to say, getting up early at Miss Lucille's had a little more appeal than waking up anywhere else in the world. By midmorning, after ten minutes after the breakfast dishes had been cleaned up, dinner vittles would start being prepared and the house would again be filled with the sounds of pots and pans being rattled, and the smells of true southern dishes would start to make your mouth water, even if your stomach was still on overload from breakfast. Dinner, as it's called down there, consisted of fried chicken, fried okra, chicken and rice, creamed corn, fresh butter beans, crispy corn bread, sweet tea, and about a half dozen or so of assorted pies and cakes, million dollar cake being my favorite. She'd swear that it cost twenty dollars to make that one alone! As the kids would leave the table for activities such as fishing, hunting, and general “farm scouting”, the day would break into random chit chat and stories and naps on the couch with the roar of the window air conditioning unit drowning out the sounds of people talking and the excessive volume of the TV. The evenings in Ozark with Lucille usually consisted of left overs, which we all fought over, and sitting outside in the carport surrounded by a host of funny named plants like, “bleeding hearts”, “coronation roses”, “bougainvillea”, and an occasional edible, like a tomato bush or a hill of squash, all randomly planted without much order. If it had pretty blooms, Lucille planted it. Most nights were concluded with a late night cup of coffee (left from earlier in the day and reheated in the microwave) and a hunk of pie, all while watching a good western (they were all good to her) and painting our nails from her vast collection of polishes (which sat in a huge ash tray on the side table), some of which were a bit old and thick. Being at her house is one of my fondest memories of all times. The “pony tail” palm, which once sat on the coffee table in a little pot and later ended up eight feet tall on the carport, was always a reminder of the years gone by. No wonder we called it, “sweet home Alabama”.
When I think back over all the times I spent with Lucille, I can't remember a cross word ever spoken by her or a time when being in her company wasn't anything other than pure fun. She was a lively and smart woman, always kind and caring; the kind of person that always had a cup of coffee ready for a visitor or the mailman, and an ear to listen. I can honestly say that I am a better person from knowing her. She taught me how to really cook, bait a hook, and shell peas, but most importantly, she taught me that death was not the “end all”…and this she knew from experience, having buried three husbands, two sons (my Jerry being one), all her brothers and one sister, and one seven year old granddaughter. In fact soon after Jerry died, when I moved down there for a few years, she started trying to get me dates with her friend's sons, all in an effort help me be happy again. She'd brag on all of them pointing out their various attributes and describing their pretty cars and stable jobs. Bury um' and marry um' was her motto, though she always waited a year before saying nuptials again, out of respect for the former one. She used to say she didn't know which husband she loved the best but she was glad the good Lord had given her so many.
Lucille has loved me and my children through good times and some really bad ones, always offering an optimistic word of advice, a hug, a smile and a good laugh. I will always be grateful to her for so many things, and I will always miss her tremendously. She was about the best mother-in-law, grandmother and great grandmother a family could have ever had. I know she is happy now…she's with all of her men…”lefty” Louie, with the heart melting blue eyes, Daddy Wright with the soft hands that only counted pills and money, smart –as-a-cricket Ralph who could fix anything, and Rodney and Jerry, her sons with all of their “tall tales”. Yes, heaven must be happier now. A good soul has just entered the house! It's a party I'm sure, one I almost wish I had been invited to. I already miss her now. They don't make people like that anymore. She was a rare gem. She was a good un'. Somehow “sweet home Alabama” is just not gonna be so sweet anymore. …