Category Archives: Relationships

Southern Fried Samhain

Yeah, yeah. I’ve seen the prints and the photos of Autumn in all her glorious color; but, I have a hard time relating to that. When I lived in Pennsylvania, I walked around like a tourist every October. The colors of the trees were too fantastic to be real, and yet, they were. One of these days, I’m going to go on a Leaf Peeper tour of New England in Autumn and get the whole great, big, giant effect. In Mississippi, we just didn’t have that kind of color. Mostly trees went straight from green to brown. Usually over about a two-hour span on a Thursday night. They fell to the ground on Friday and that was that.  Autumn – or, more accurately, Fall. So, when people talk about Autumn and its beautiful color, I still have a hard time making that connection. For me, Autumn is less about leaves and more about candy!

SamtenserI still love Halloween. When I was a child, we lived outside of town where there were no neighbors to call on for trick or treating; so, we went into town. We went through neighborhoods where we had friends and came home with pillowcases heavy with goodies. Back then, those goodies included Aunt Lawrie’s popcorn balls and Miss Charlene’s pralined pecans (a closely guarded recipe my father has tried to wheedle out of her for years). Whether the night was chilly or warm (and in southern Mississippi it was just as likely to be one as it was the other) no trick or treat outing was complete without a stop for a hot chocolate or hot cider at Mister Andrew and Ms Monelle Smith’s log cabin in the middle of town. It was a wonderful tradition that I enjoyed then and treasure now.

And, now, it’s my turn. I love to watch the slightly puzzled little ones all dressed up coming around the neighborhood with their siblings and their parents. I love the costumes, the pumpkins, and I love being the one who helps make great memories for these children. This year, I had been planning to have friends over for a Samhain dinner where we could enjoy good food and each other’s company while we honored the dead by setting a place for them at the table. Alas, my vampire schedule has interfered.

Ah, but fear not, my friends! A coworker has suggested that we have our own dinner that night – at work! I like that idea and am contributing fried chicken and biscuits to the meal. Now, you know I don’t eat either of those things anymore; but, I enjoy making them and will enjoy watching others eat them – especially while I’m noshing on those vegetarian spring rolls that are being made just for me! There will be potato salad and goodness knows what else! I’m sure the Celts would be puzzled by our modern, multi-cultural (but mostly Southern) offerings; but, after a little fried chicken, I’m sure they’d get over it. I know that we’re all looking forward to it. Looking forward to good food, good company, and to enjoying an ancient tradition in a thoroughly modern way.


Love Is a Rheostat

On Sunday morning just after Leah died, my father and I were exiting the hospital hand-in-hand when he said, “She really loved you.” To which I replied, “And I really loved her.” But, then, I realized that my statement wasn’t true. I didn’t love her in the past tense: I love her in the present tense.

light-switch-and-dimmerLove isn’t a toggle switch. It’s a rheostat.

Leah’s precious spirit isn’t here anymore; but, that doesn’t mean that my love for her toggles into the off position. It’s not that easy even with romantic love after it all goes to Hell in a handbasket. (And how many times have I wished that it was a toggle!?) I still love Leah and always will. She was a wonderful woman. My dear friend Joey died over 21 years ago. My friend Sandy died seven years ago. I still love them and think of them daily. Of course it’s different than it was when they were alive because love among the living can be nurtured and allowed to grow. Now, I love memories of my friends. Love for memories cannot grow. Its light dims to a comfortable glow. I’m not sure that “dims” is the right work here, but I think you know what I mean. The love doesn’t diminish – it doesn’t disappear, but it may not burn as brightly as it once did.

The conversation with my father reminded me of a scene from the movie Phenomenon. John Travolta’s character George is dying. Kyra Sedgwick’s character Lace is sitting with him. They have this exchange:

  • Lace: I tried so hard not to love you.
  • George: How’d you make out?
  • Lace: Terrible.
  • George: Hey, would you, uh, love me the rest of my life?
  • Lace: No. I’m gonna love you for the rest of mine.

Corny as it might sound, that’s how it is. When we love someone, we don’t love them until they die. We love them until we do.