Tuesday, December 22, 2015

But, Oh! What He DID Do!

"Great men show politeness in a particular way; 
a smile suffices to assure you that you are welcome, 
and keep about their avocations as if you were a member of the family."
 - John James Audubon

Today, we lay to rest a great man. A son, a brother, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a cousin, an uncle and a friend. He was so much to so many. Robert Lee Dehart was a great man. 

He never built  tall buildings or monuments, instead he built a foundation for his family of long-lasting, unconditional love. He never discovered a new world or a new drug or a new creature, however he discovered the good in almost everyone he met. He never became a millionaire, but he had wealth in love and in laughter. He never bestowed riches upon an institution, but he gave graciously from his heart to those in need. He never wrote literature or poetry that would carry on through the ages, but he wrote notes and letters to his sweetheart that she will keep dear to her heart always. 

His laugh was contagious. His smile was a mile wide. His heart was overflowing with love for us all. His life here on earth was brief, but he will live in our memories forever. 

His death was sudden and unexpected. It was a shock to us all. He will be missed greatly. 

He was a great man. 

Much love and many memories,

(For the Obituary, click <here>)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Dancing in the Kitchen

Photo by Joann Comeens

I ask if there is anything I can do. I really mean it, too. Of course, I have been sitting here doing nothing for ten minutes. She calls me hon and reminds me she does this every day. She tells me I’m fine just where I sit. Her sweet smile tells me she really means it, too.

So, I watch and sip my coffee. Good, strong coffee, too. Not that fancy coffee from the corner place. But then, here, there is no corner place. Small-town Alabama doesn’t have corner places.

She checks the bacon. It’s cooking on one of those indoor grills that boxer guy sells on television late at night. I wonder if she saw it when she couldn’t sleep or if someone else saw it and gave it to her for her birthday, or Christmas. Probably Mother’s Day. The bacon’s fine.

She moves across the floor. A measuring cup pours flour into a mixing bowl. A bit of milk, a pinch of salt (or maybe it’s a dash). Baking powder – the one with the girl on the can, I’m almost certain. Now, with the bowl in the crook of her left arm, and a fork in her right hand, she stirs vigorously until there is dough – sticky, but not wet. Her small hand spreads enough flour on the counter to keep the dough from sticking and begins to knead. A small, round cutter forms biscuits that go straight onto a baking sheet and right into the oven. 

Back to check the bacon. A few flips of the wrist and all the strips are sizzling on the flip side.

I like my eggs fried, over-medium, so that’s what I tell her when she asks. A small skillet. A little shortening. Not oil – actual shortening. She says she’s not sure how the eggs will turn out, but she’ll try. I know they’ll be wonderful, and I tell her so.

Grits are a southern staple. My mouth is watering already. She measures water into the pan and adds the ground corn. The water boils, the ground corn becomes soft. She adds butter and salt. I wonder if it really can get much better than this.

The bacon is done. She moves it onto a plate near the stove to keep it warm while the eggs cook. She makes fried eggs, over-medium, for each of us girls. He likes his scrambled. He eats them the same way every day. I tell her she should have told me he was having scrambled and I would have had the same. I don’t want to put you out. She smiles and says if she didn’t want to know how I like my eggs, she wouldn’t have asked. She eats hers hard boiled. 

She spoons the grits into a bowl that goes directly into the center of the table next to the bacon. She sets each plate with eggs in front of each of us. Jelly – apple, strawberry, peach, plum – all homemade, all stored in the jelly cabinet, for the biscuits. Oh, the biscuits. Hot, soft, delicate. She asks if we need anything – more coffee? Juice? Milk? I’m not a milk drinker, but I do take more coffee.

She moves to the table and finally joins us. She passes the biscuits. There is grace in those biscuits – her warm hug, her easy laugh, her gentle way – all right there on the table to share with us. As I fill my plate, I know, yes, I am just fine where I sit. It’s the finest seat in the house. Front row, center. I am in the audience for one of the most beautiful dances I’ve ever seen. I almost weep. I don’t know if I will ever again see a dance so breathtaking.

Much love and lots of biscuits,