Hello loyal readers! Yes, it is I, Sarah. I’m alive (not exactly well, as I’m recovering from poison ivy and battling with the steroid that seems to help my rash and devastate everything else) and back after exactly two months of silence. My apologies are numerous but not extremely guilty. I haven’t had much to say in the last two months. Senior year has actually been one of the smallest drains on my time. However, eight piano students, the activities and functions that come with traditional church, and the fact that there are six people in my family- all of these things have taken their toll on my time.
But now I’m here. There are at least three posts that I want to write in the next month (it is Novel-Writing Month, after all, even though I won’t exactly be writing a novel) but none of them are really coming to me right now. So instead, in honor of fall and the fact that for me, fall brings up every memory I’ve ever had, the rest of this post will be an ode to my family and all that they’ve taught me over my seventeen years of life.
A Number of Things My Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Great-Grandparents Have Taught Me
When the sign says, “Work Zone- Do Not Enter” you can keep driving. It’ll make for a great story once you get where you’re going.
I only travelled to Alabama with my maternal grandmother one time, but that one time taught me more than I could possibly have imagined. We were driving along and my grandmother took the exit she always did. Did she see the sign? Surely. Did I see the it? Yes. But hey, I was ten years old and believed that my grandmother knew everything. Surely it was okay to drive down the road. Well, it was okay for about fifteen minutes, at which point the road ended and the workers started giving us weird looks. My grandmother was confused, so I timidly made mention of the sign.
She hadn’t seen it.
As we turned around she laughed till she cried, and it was a running joke from that time on to remind my Mimaw to watch out for “road closed” signs.
2. Dressing that can be cut into squares simply is not dressing at all.
This is actually a gem from my great-grandmother, Mim, whose words of wisdom still reign supreme in her daughters’ minds after all these years. The Cracker Barrel restaurant probably rued the day that they served Nona Mae Holcomb such horrible dressing.
3. Moses (or, God) is always watching.
At a family gathering many years ago, there sat a ceramic statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments. It was on a side-table or something, innocently observing the conversation taking place. At one point the conversation turned, as conversations tend to do, to someone who was disliked by various people present. It was only a few minutes into this conversation that my dad quietly picked up the Moses figurine and held it piously before him. It served as a gentle and fun reminder that we should always watch what we say, because the Lord is always listening.
4. Baking isn’t really an exact science
At least not for Mimaw. Most of the recipes that I have from her have notes that go something like, “to taste” or, “until it looks right”. Sometimes we can’t recreate a recipe to perfection simply because we don’t know what “right” looks like. But it’s okay, we don’t mind. It just reminds us of all the times she cooked for us, or our family, or any number of people. One of my life goals is to be able to cook like my grandmothers and aunts.
5. Grandpas know everything
This is an indisputable fact that I will argue to my grave. My Paw-Paw has taught me so much on so many subjects that I can’t even begin to list them all. But just for fun, here are a few: how to take a girl on a date (this is for my brother, obviously), how to fix the various ailments of a car, how to make a long-distance relationship work (get in good with the mother), how to make boiled ocra, how to make a hummingbird cake, the use for red winnies, and, of course, how to drive (I learned this skill at age eleven at the city fairgrounds).
6. “Maroon” is a really good insult
Mostly because by the time someone figures out that you just called them a moron, you’re already gone.
7. Keep your siblings close
I will never, for as long as I live, forget the time that my Mimi pulled me onto her lap after I’d been horribly despicable to one of my younger sisters. She had tears in her eyes as she held me close. I’d never seen her cry before and in seconds my eyes were also filled with tears. “Sarah,” she said softly, “I want you to promise me something.” I couldn’t do anything but nod. “Be good to your sisters and your brother. You’re lucky to have them and they’re lucky to have you. And… once they’re gone you may never get them back.” This is a piece of wisdom that I have carried with me ever since, and plan to pass along to my kids just as soon as they understand English.
8. You’re never too old to have an adventure
Every time my grandparents get back home from a trip to Alabama, or yet another tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway, they always have stories. Sometimes it’s something they saw, something they did or didn’t do, or just the good time they had talking together. One of my distant cousins (she’s over seventy) still owns thirty-two acres and keeps and feeds her own cows.
9. Stories are family
I never get tired of hearing stories about my family. Everything I learn gives me new insight into the people I love most. From the people I never got to meet, the ones I can’t see anymore, or even the ones who tell me to go to bed each night, I love hearing stories about each one. Even the ones I’ve heard a thousand times get new life blown into them when a different family member tells them. Stories are family, and families have stories.
Until I was fourteen years old, my family vacations were literal famly vacations. We went to Alabama twice a year- once for the 4th of July and my sister’s birthday and once at Thanksgiving for the family gathering and the Iron Bowl. When I turned fourteen, my grandparents moved to Arkansas to be near us and that was the end of our Alabama vacations.
My biggest reason for “walking” and participating in a real graduation ceremony is to be able to see my family. I know exactly two other students who will be graduating with me. I haven’t taken any AP classes of CLEP’d out of any college courses. I’m not walking because of me. I’m walking because when it’s all over and I’ve thrown my cap and come down off the stage, there will be hugs and kisses and voices that I haven’t heard in ages waiting for me. That’s why I’m walking. To see my family.