Friday, May 25, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #299

Nancy White Kelly

Those of us who have five good friends, I mean really good friends, are blessed. One of mine died yesterday. Her name was Ramie. She shared the same birthday with my father, including not only the day, March 31, but the year, 1920.

There was not another woman like Ramie, not one. When God made the mold for that gal, he destroyed the mold. She was a jewel in every sense…not perfect, but a classy old lady who loved her Lord, dressed to the nines and spoke her mind. I can just imagine her remodeling her mansion just now and attempting to choreograph heaven.

When our son, Charlie, was married, Ramie rode with us to the wedding. She had directed many weddings in her lifetime and took it upon herself to give Tori’s wedding director a few pointers. She rearranged the flowers and later attempted to sit in my deceased mother’s place. That was the only time I resisted Ramie’s amusing, yet annoying persistence.

My mother adored Charlie and would have been at that wedding if she had lived. I just could now allow anybody to sit in my mother’s spot, not even my dear friend, Ramie.

Not to be dismissed so easily, Ramie squeezed into the pew just behind me, right between two of my three brothers. When I crooked my neck to check out the commotion, there she was, smirking, but beaming like a proud grandmother. And that she was, a mother a grandmother or best friend to all she knew and liked.

For thirteen years, Ramie and I laughed, cried, and prayed together. When her husband, Guy, died, she became an inspiring widow. Guy and Ramie were close, very close, but she never allowed self-pity. Within a week she was carrying food to the sick. Just a few weeks before her death from cancer she was teaching Sunday school to young couples.

Teaching Bible was her passion. Living it was her legacy.

I will miss my dear friend. This time last year, Ramie had picked out a dress to wear to my obviously imminent funeral. I have had a wild ride with cancer. Then kidney failure morphed into a coffin nail. Ramie really thought I would beat her to heaven and told me she was jealous. Heaven was as real to her as anything tangible.

She is there now and I am almost jealous. The good news is that someday I will see Ramie again. You can’t lose somebody when you know where they are. Deceased Christian friends are like stars on a hazy night. While you can’t see them, you know they are there.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #298

Nancy White Kelly

Now that the weather is pretty, we are getting our annual influx of visitors, mostly old friends and family. Unless I am sick or extremely busy, I enjoy company. My only request is that I have enough time between guests to wash the sheets. Clean linens are still in style, at least in the Kelly household.

Buddy enjoys having company because it means a wider variety of food on the table. I have my staple meals for large gatherings, Barbeque and Brunswick stew, Lo-Country Boil, Chicken and Dumplings. I keep a tray of sandwich fixings in the refrigerator for lunch or in-between meals.

You know the old saying, “after three days, fish and company begin to stink.” Not always, but frequently so. If the company stays beyond an etiquettely-correct length of stay, I start announcing future meals of chitlins and stewed possum. Nobody has ever stayed long enough for me to actually follow-through with such thinly-veiled threats. That’s a good thing as I was a city girl and know little about cooking such victuals.

I do recognize a possum when I see one. The first thing I learned when I moved to Georgia was that they sleep in the middle of the road with four feet in the air.

Chitlins. I have never seen one of those critters, but I got the displeasure of smelling some once. When I was a primary-age child, my Sunday school teacher took me along to visit her former maid who was very sick. My prim and proper teacher bent double in laughter when she determined that I thought the old woman said chill’en were cooking on the stove. I think she wet her pants.

The smell of those stinking chitlins wafting from that wood stove is something I never forgot. When the frail little woman died a few days later, my childish mind wondered if those smelly critters didn’t poison her insides.

Now I am adult with lots of memories and a bit of senile humor. Come to the mountains. I promise not to threaten possum or chitlins. Just don’t over-stay your welcome. I might serve you a scrumptious pseudo-blackberry cobbler… if I can find that can of caviar.