Thursday, January 21, 2010

Growing Up Southern

My book club is full of wonderful women….wonderful, strong women who love to discuss and really “dig-in” to books --- finding the lessons……the struggles….and even the beauty that evolves in a character or through circumstances. I love book club! I live for book club!!

This week, we discussed The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The Help tells the stories of fictional African-American women who worked in southern homes in the 60’s. It’s about relationships between women- the good, the bad, and the ugly. One of the characters, Abileen, made it her job…..even her mission… influence the children she took care of….to influence them to know they are wonderful and beautiful……to love and not hate…..and to see the commonalities not just the differences. Her goal was to change the destiny of one child and by that child eventually change the world.

The Help is now one of my favorite books. It got me thinkin’--thinkin’ about the women who shaped my life……who invested in me……who collectively showed me the path that I am on now. These women have impacted me… children….and eventually even my grandchildren. Because of their investment in my heart, my soul and my outlook on life, they have even impacted YOU… readers…my friends….my circle of influence….and that is a beautiful thing!

Today’s blog is an homage to The Women who shaped me, who inspired me, who cared for me, and who challenged me. These women demonstrated to me the grace and the beauty of being a strong, southern woman.

Growing up in central Arkansas in an era of black and white tv’s, window air conditioners, rotary telephones and cars without seat belts, I learned an appreciation of the simple things:

Water hose fights on a hot summer day
Popsicles with ice cream in the middle
Lying in front of a fan reading a book
Singing into that fan-listening to how it changed my voice
Casual conversation on the porch swing
Spitting watermelon seeds at my cousins
Bologna sandwiches with mustard and cheese
Bare feet feeling the cold floor in the refrigeration section at the Piggly Wiggly
Icees at Kmart
Riding in the back of the pickup truck
Lying on a raft in the stillness of the lake
Bluegrass music

My Momma and Daddy had two distinct and very different family dynamics. Momma’s family had the quiet intellectual types…..the ones who could quote poetry at the drop of a hat….the ones who invented new ways to do old things. Religion and Politics were never discussed (although Grandpa was a preacher) and voices always carried a civilized tone.

Daddy’s family was lively and full of debate, discussion, and practical jokes. Religion and politics were the favorite discussion topics at the kitchen table. One had to strategize to get the best seat at the table and the last bowlful of dumplins….AND watch over that bowl like a hawk because if you turned your back, the bowl would disappear into thin air and you would never find it.  The house was always loud and full of people.  As a matter of fact, that kitchen would get so loud that we kids had to turn the tv all the way up to hear it......that is....until the inevitable pause in the conversation exposed the loud tv and we would hear...."You kids turn that tv down!"

Both families were full of strong, beautiful, intriguing women of all types.  These women taught me:

That the worst thing you could ever do was be ugly--ugly on the inside--and say ugly things. The words, “That was ugly” brought a sense of shame in my heart and made me remember to be considerate of others……always.

Being strong doesn’t mean that you can’t be soft as well. Being strong isn’t about being hard……it’s about being resilient…like Scarlet O’Hara.

My opinions matter……..but giving my opinion should never be at the expense of someone else’s feelings…’s all about the delivery.

Family is very, very, very important. If someone is family, they are a part of your life….period. It doesn’t mean we always like them…….but we always cheer for them to do well. It’s important to spend time with your family and get to know them as people.

You can get away with murder with a smile and a coy look.

That looking nice isn’t about false appearances, it’s about self-respect.

It is important to tell those around you that you love them….and tell them often.

Laughter is a wonderful binding agent.

Respect is given not earned….and where respect is given, respect is gotten. When disrespect is given, disrespect is gotten.

These women, the aunts, cousins, grandmothers, family friends, and, of course, my mother embodied such beauty, such knowledge, such southern wonderfulness…… They made me who I am today…..and I am eternally grateful.

1 comment:

痛苦 said...
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