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Monday, January 25, 2016

Ends and Beginnings

I kind of dreaded this day before it got here. Then the week-long winter storm just before it kind of distracted me. But now it's here. The fifth anniversary of the fourth major event in my life that brought a totally new landscape to it. The first was marriage, of course, the second, motherhood and third, becoming a grandmother when my daughter's son was born. Then five years ago the fourth event, when my husband of more than fifty years left me and this world. It was not unexpected. He'd fought the good fight for almost three years, trying to come back from a major stroke. But he regained negligible use of the left side of his body and both mind and body slowly deteriorated. By the end, he sometimes knew me, but hardly anyone else. Watching the slow sinking of this shell of the strong, full-of-life young man I'd married was hard.
Now carrying the everyday responsibilities of life alone was permanent. I knew I was and am a strong woman, and my husband had never hindered me from becoming stronger through the years. But I was still a little surprised at how hard I was hit, and the amount of time needed to regain my equilibrium.
A somewhat unexpected fifth event helped me during the months prior to and after my husband's death. The birth of a precious great grandson. And now there are two, and the goal of being around to watch them grow up, in addition to personal achievement goals, keeps me looking forward to each day. Who knew such joy could come following the end of a big part of one's life.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Cornbread Girl in a Light Bread World

I've had a hankering for some cornbread for a while. But I didn't take the time to pull out bowl, buttermilk, cornmeal, skillet to make some. Today I decided was a good time to pull myself from the keyboard and enjoy a pone of homemade cornbread. It's good, if I do say so myself!
When I was growing up deep in the Georgia back country, the bread in our diet consisted of biscuits, cornbread, occasionally crackers and 'loaf bread.' The last was what we called store-bought bread, and it was seldom found on our table. I would not attempt to tally the number of biscuits my mother 'stirred up' and shaped by hand over almost forty years to feed her husband and, eventually, eight children. My parents divorced when only two of my siblings were still at home, but I'm sure she still made biscuits on a regular basis. And even after she was diagnosed with Type II diabetes.
I married and moved to Tennessee and I heard loaf bread called 'light bread.' And was introduced to the mouth-watering delicacies, homemade yeast bread and rolls. Of course, even in Tennessee, cornbread was and still is a well-loved staple at the dinner table. Biscuits, too, especially for breakfast, accompanied by a good serving of gravy, bacon and scrambled eggs.
By the time I moved to Tennessee though very few housewives stirred and shaped the biscuits by hand like my mother. Spoons were used, mostly wooden spoons, also new to me. I was happy to learn that method, I hated the feel of sticky, wet dough on my hands.
To say my family was poor is like saying Donald Trump is well-off. In fact, most of the people around us were in the same boat. The time period in which I grew up was the tail end of the Great Depression, and recovery was slower to reach rural Georgia.
But I believe that era produced strong, self-reliant people who have contributed much to the world. And I don't regret those years. I'm quite happy to be a 'cornbread girl in a light bread world.'
I wrote this piece several months ago, last year in fact, as one of my Kingsport Daily News columns. But I was thinking of making cornbread today and decided to recycle it.