Reflections on Living in the South




Living in the Southern United States all of my life, gives me a unique perspective on life that only those who live here or have lived here share with each other.  I was thinking about the differences we have that are dear to us and make us gracious, warm, and beautiful.

Living in South Georgia most of my life but born in South Carolina, raised in Alabama, lived in North Carolina and Mississippi, gives me a pretty broad view of life in the South and in reflecting on these, I thought I would share some of them.  If I write memories down, at my age, I will remember them later, I hope.  If not, I can read them and remember and reflect.

The picture above was taken last week, the last week of November, in our rose garden and these were just one color.  Lindsay brought me a whole bouquet of several colors he had cut.  We also have Fire Poker lilies, sasanqua, and Confederate roses blooming in our yard. The nandina bushes are loaded with clusters of red berries and the holly tree is ablaze with red berries also. Camellias will be blooming in a few weeks and ready for the Christmas table.



Then there are the gracious manners that many have.  I had gentlemen open the door for me to enter before him at 2 stores today and it was done with a smile.  Yes ma'am, yes please, thank you, no please, and no ma'am, are used by most around here.  Of course if a child forgets to say these, mama or daddy usually say, " Yes, what?"  I can here our mama saying this to us even today.

If anyone is older than you, address them as "Mister" or "Mrs" and when they enter the room you stand and offer them a chair.  Best not be sitting down if you are younger or mama would remind you to give your seat to the older person.

It is also a place where everyone knows what "ya'll", "Bless your heart", "over yonder", pot likker and cornbread, pecan pie, fried okra, collards, greens, peas and butter beans are.  You know that ham and turkey are served at Christmas and Thanksgiving along with sweet potato souffle, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, cornbread dressing, pecan and pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce (home made), pickles, relishes, and hot rolls.  Families add their favorites to these and it is a feast fit for a king or queen.

If you serve fried fish, you know there will be hush puppies, cheese grits, pickles, onions and slaw.  Fresh tea is a must and it needs to be sweet and iced.  If a waitress asks you "sweet or unsweetened", they are not from the South for tea is always sweet, ice cold and served with lemon - at least as far as I am concerned.

When I go to town, church or anywhere away from home, there were a few rules that mama insisted that I follow and I still do.  If I don't , I can hear Mama in heaven saying, "Frances, are you going out dressed like that?"  I must be clean, clean clothes, hair combed, earrings, mascara, and lipstick.  The clothes best not be too tight, too short or neckline too low.  Mama would remind us that we were to dress and look "respectable" and that we represented the family.  You never know who you are going to see, she would say, and you need to look presentable.  Those words will remain a part of me forever I am sure.

Sure makes it difficult when I see some of the "attire" that some people wear - too tight, too low, too high, and these days, too thin.  Nothing is left to the imagination for it is all out there for all to see.  Just because they make a top in size 50, doesn't mean you look good in it.  I wonder if some people ever look in a mirror before they leave the house!


Life is wonderful down here in the South where the I can still see cotton (Southern snow) in the fields, buy fresh peas, butter beans, squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, greens and other fresh produce from the fields around us.  Fresh tomatoes are even available right down the road from our house.  We have not had a freeze yet and only a light frost.  I have lemons on my tree and a tree loaded with oranges.  They are almost ready!! I love the growing season here - almost year round.


As you can read, the South is my home and I love it here.  I hear the soft sounds of our slow talking, that wraps around you like a sweet honeysuckle vine and is pleasant to the ears.  I smell the pound cakes, fruit cakes, pecan pies, and other sweet delicacies baking the ovens.  I watch the geese flying south in a beautiful V shape and hear the doves late in the afternoon as they nest for the night.

Come on down for a visit anytime.
The Georgia Peach

SEASIDE CONTEMPLATION


On this chilly, windy day, I felt the need to walk the beach despite the cold.  As I began my walk with my head down looking for shells to add to my growing collection, I began to feel very sad.  Thinking about all my family and friends who are no longer with us I grieved for them and wished that they were still here. I miss them so much.

As I walked with head down and a few tears trickling down my cheeks I heard a whisper telling me to lift my head, look at the beauty of the waves and the blue sky with white clouds floating overhead and remember the God who made all of this is also my Heavenly Father.  He reminded me with the sound of the waves brushing the sands that I am enfolded with His love and that these loved ones are still with me and will always be a part of me.

It was as if I was surrounded by those saints who have gone ahead - mama, daddy, my brother, my husband of 50 years and so many more who are now praising God in His presence.  They will always be with me in my memories that are so precious and I am thankful  that I have these treasures. 



Still walking and listening to my Heavenly Father comfort me I noticed a type of shell on the beach that I have often found broken but never a whole one.  There lying in the sand was a small, whole, Angel wing shell.  I carefully picked it up for they are fragile and easily broken and then found 3 more.  Does God send us signs?  Maybe so for these reminded me that there are angels all around and we sometimes feel the brush of angel wings in our life.  God is so good.

Feeling at peace and praising the Father for the comfort He brought to me all I could do was sing "Praise God from whom all blessings flow".  He has also blessed me with a sweet, strong and fine man, Lindsay, to be my companion, friend and husband in our latter years.  Praise Him from whom all blessing flow. 

The sun has set, darkness has moved in but my heart is at peace and I know all those wonderful Saints who have gone ahead are praising God perfectly and some day we will praise Him all together. Thank you Father.

EMOTIONAL SEAS


We always enjoy coming to St. Augustine and spending as much time as we can on the beach.  This is where I can hear God speaking to me through the waves washing on shore, the sound of the wind blowing around me, and the feel of the sand beneath my feet.  This week has been an emotional time for me with both ups and downs but walking the beach several times a day has comforted me as I heard His voice speaking through His creation.

Soon after we arrived at my "happy place", I had a message that a dear friend had left this earth and entered his heavenly home.  I knew that Ronnie had just this week had been diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was not good.  Having been through this same experience with Roy, I knew that the months ahead for he and his family would be almost unbearable at times. I dreaded the days ahead for Ronnie and his family and friends as we would pray for healing but know that "perfect healing" from the Lord could be the answer.


After we read the message that he had left here and entered Heaven, I again turned to the sea for answers and peace.  It was a beautiful day with the sun shining and warm as a late, spring day with the waves gently washing the sands and my feet as I walked.

Memories flooded my mind of the many times that Ronnie and Janet with many of our other friends from our church in Adel, went on mission trips together.  They were wonderful days spent doing construction, remodeling, backyard Bible groups, witnessing about our Lord and having lots of laughter.  We worked hard but enjoyed the companionship and knowing the satisfaction of helping others.

I wish we had kept a list of all the wheelchair ramps that Ronnie, Tony, Roy, Mr. Henry, Steve and other men in the "Men of Action" group have built in Cook Country GA.  Anytime a ramp was needed and the person could not afford to have one built, these men would gather on a Saturday morning and build the ramp for them, at no charge except a "thank you".

These men led our church in numerous mission projects in Adel, Cook county, Atlanta, upper state New York,  and many other places.  Entire families went and worked on these projects and we always did it freely and praising the Lord.  Many people have new roofs, porches, houses painted, yards cleaned, a kitchen remodeled at a children's home, and other repairs that these Men of Action enjoyed doing.  They were a joyous and happy group that liked working together and including all who would help but always giving a testimony to their Lord and Savior.


Most of all I will miss the warm smile and hug I received from Ronnie when I would see him at church for he was a faithful member and was a deacon, SS teacher, and anything else he was asked to do.  He enjoyed visiting the sick, shut-ins, and visitors with our ministerial staff and always willing to tell anyone about the Lord.  We knew that he and Janet would be in their place on Sundays worshiping and praising God.

All of these wonderful memories came flooding back  as I walked the beach and grieved for those who have gone to their heavenly home - Mr. Henry Giddens, Roy Robson, and now Ronnie Alligood.  I know they are praising the Lord and waiting for those of us left behind to join them when our time comes.

As I listened to the waves this week and heard God speak, it gave me peace to know that we know where Ronnie and our other friends are and that we must continue the ministry they so enjoyed.  Thank you Father, for the comfort, peace and joy you give me through your presence and your voice in the wind and the waves.

We say goodbye to Ronnie for a little while, knowing we will see him again some day.