As one who came late and planned to leave early, I’ve been amazed by the realization of how very much I’m going to miss all of you . . . all y’all, as we say down here when we mean everybody in the room plus your kinfolks, too.
Normally, I post my comments several days in advance. I pick a subject, write five- or six-hundred words, then slot it into the queue so Mr. Typepad can publish it online at the proper time. This time? I’m four hours away from deadline and I’m at a loss for words.
How can I say goodbye easily to the place where I learned about lip paint? Where I “met” Karen and sent her wild phlox seeds in exchange for forget-me-not seeds? Where I finally learned what IOCHFTS means (and realized I wasn’t holding up my end in Me, Margie’s department)? Where I discovered all over again what a great bunch of women my fellow writers are? In the short 18 months I've been here, we’ve laughed and commiserated with each other, scolded and praised, cried and cheered.
I feel as if it’s the last week of high school. Oh, we swear we’re gonna keep in touch—that we’ll call and write and drop in on each other whenever we’re in the neighborhood, and for a while, we probably will. But in our heart of hearts, we know that it’ll never be the same, that inevitably we’ll drift apart as time carries us further from each other.
I had a list of stories and topics I wanted to share with y’all so I could hear your take on them: declassifying jack rabbits at the Pentagon, nutpicks, gargoyles and rainbows, the real life murder I planned but didn’t commit, buzzard lore, family reunions—
Okay. A family reunion story. My grandmother was one of ten siblings. Every June, the “children” would take turns hosting the whole family on the Sunday nearest their mother’s birthday (30 June 1860). The host provided the plates and cups and tubs of sweet lemonade and iced tea.
Every family came with hampers of food and a long table would be spread under the oaks or pecan trees. The crispy fried pork chops! The ham biscuits! The competing potato salads, ditto the deviled eggs! The fried chicken and first tomatoes of summer! Desserts had a table to themselves: pecan pies, lemon meringue, red velvet cakes, banana pudding, my own grandmother’s famous 7-layer chocolate cake.
The year we moved back to North Carolina would be our young son’s first reunion since we left New York. He was still miffed that we’d brought him to a place where the Mets games were not automatically televised and nothing about the reunion interested him till we were getting into the car and I told him that the it was going to be at my grandmother’s brother’s house. My Great-Uncle Willie. His eye grew round. “He’s my Uncle Willie, too?”
I was pleased that he was excited until I heard him crooning happily in the back seat, “Uncle Willie. . . Uncle Willie Mays!”
But the thing is, aren't we all related now on some psychic level? And won't we’ll feel that kinship whenever news of someone we met here works its way through the grapevine?
Forget any of you?