Monthly Archives: June 2015

Home From the Picnic

You know how it is at a South Georgia picnic/cookout to which everyone’s brought their pot, pan or bowl brimming with good vittles. You eat until you can’t and then you take a few more bites and nibbles. Saturday night’s potluck supper was no exception. There were fresh vegetables, hamburgers grilled by Hubert DeSercy, salads, casseroles, plates of this and that, and unending desserts, decadent wonderful desserts. When we left Johnny and Joanne’s farm (a treat to visit anytime, turtles and all!) we were fully blessed with good food, but also brimming with stories we’d heard from one and another, enough to pack a Guideposts magazine. Being with Christian friends, giving and receiving hugs, catching up on news, worrying a little bit about our country, and sharing some of the latest jokes…hobnobbing some call it…is so good for us all. Whether hobnobbing, sharing prayer needs, fellowshipping, or simply “getting together,” whatever we call it, it’s very important. And swapping stories is a very big part of a good ole picnic.

About some of those stories…

I’d already been aware of one of the stories, the one about the traveling watermelon. Sue had told me the day before when we were talking about what each of us would contribute to the dinner, that she would take her traveling watermelon. She explained that for two weeks she and her husband have been hauling this watermelon in their car. When they went to see their children in North Carolina they put the watermelon in the car, but there was never an appropriate time for a melon cutting. They trucked it back home. A call came that Sue’s 94-year-old dad is nearing the gates of heaven. She and Cecil hurried down to Florida to sit with him. Why not take the watermelon? Could come in handy. But it didn’t. Her dad rallied some and they came home–with their watermelon. One or two other shorter ventures came up but still the wonderful, very large, long watermelon remained uncut. They began to call it the traveling watermelon. When cutting it finally for the picnic, Cecil’s knife slipped somehow and all of one half of the red juicy thing flew through the air and splattered on their kitchen floor. Sue said that spot is now the cleanest in the house after her vigorous scrubbing. We enjoyed the other half at the party and were thankful that God gives us humor when we so desperately need it. We’re still praying for Sue’s dad to have a peaceful flight to heaven and to have a joyful reunion with Sue’s and Cecil’s little seven-year-old granddaughter who died in January.

Dennis and Barbara had just returned from a glorious trip to Grand Canyon and other wondrous places. It was fun to hear their descriptions and identify with them as we remembered our own experiences viewing the Canyon in different lights and moods.

Jesse and Gloria had had a most unfortunate meeting with a deer on the way to the party. Jesse was driving and both of them enjoying the evening sights of north Grady County along Pope Store Road when Gloria yelled “Deer!” But it was too late. The deer lay crumpled and still for a minute but by the time they could get out of the car it gathered itself together and ran off. The car would still run too, but will require extensive repairs to the front end. But Jesse and Gloria are fine and thankful for it.

I loved hearing Billy and Juanita’s tale of his restoring an old solid oak medicine cabinet. Their daughter had found it at a flea market and bought it for $10, a happy find for her since her father takes great joy in turning something ugly, covered in layers of sticky paint, into a lovely valuable object.

Faith told me with eyes sparkling that her son who lives in New Zealand visited home this week. I remember Maxie when he was in the four-year-old nursery school class I taught. He was already an adventurous boy then, one who could turn his teacher’s lesson plans upside down. Now he is a world traveler settled down with wife and son in New Zealand.

As Charles and I were about to leave we got into a conversation with Angie and her family. We’ve known her for years and never realized that when she was nineteen and her son fifteen months she had an accident which almost took her life and put one leg into trauma from which it has never totally recovered. This week was the anniversary (30th?) of that accident so was especially on her mind. But she smiled as she finished her story and showed by her sweet attitude that she’s grateful for so much–her parents’ and son’s support and especially to God for pulling her through.

As we drove home we chatted about various conversations we’d enjoyed together or separately and Charles enthused about a certain piece of pie that was more than scrumptious. I got out of the car at our house, thankful that my plate of stuffed eggs had all been eaten so I didn’t have to worry about putting anything away. In our yard the fireflies were beginning to blink as they made their evening rounds. The cats greeted us, rising with a stretch from the sun-warmed flagstones. They were ready for supper.

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Quilting With Pauline

Making nine-patch blocks, matching corners of 4 1/2″ squares, I feel as if Pauline is looking over my shoulder giggling now and then at my mistakes and my successes. I can hear her making quiet suggestions about which squares would fit best where, exclaiming over the rich colors, the darks and lights, the prints and solids. She’s in heaven now but she and I shared a rare friendship for quite a few years and she made a huge impact on my life. She was a joyful quilter, for certain. But she was a lot more than that.

I first met Pauline when she kept our church’s nursery. I was a young mother then and she in her early fifties. She was quite enthusiastic about my little boy and that endeared me to her immediately of course. As I learned that she and her husband had never had children, I felt a deep grief for her because, to me, having no children would be truly awful. I learned more. Pauline’s husband had died and she’d left her country home to move into town. She lived in a small brick house right across the street from our church. As I observed her week by week taking such interest in our little toddlers, her blue eyes a-twinkle as she talked of Jesus, I felt very blessed to have her and her c0-worker Miss Mamie take care of William.

One day in Belk’s as I was choosing clothes for William and his newly adopted sister, I heard a familiar voice. There was Pauline working as a clerk. It turned out, she was a very competent buyer for Belk’s so was out of town every so often on purchasing trips. But when she was there, it was such fun to have her help me shop. She always knew about the cutest outfits and the best buys. I needed flowers to send to a grieving family and stopped in at Annell’s Florist. There was Pauline arranging roses. She smiled and said, yes, she filled in sometimes because, after all, she lived next door.

When Pauline moved to the south side of town she acquired an entire closed-in carport for her sewing, a huge table for quilting and other projects, lots of cabinets and counters. I lived a short distance away and could walk to her house. She loved for me to come see every blooming flower, every shrub in her modest yard, as well as her latest sewing accomplish-ment. I’d take her soup or a loaf of bread and she’d give me a cutting from a rose bush, a new apron or pillow.

Pauline helped me immeasurably with a quilting project of my own once (that’s another story) and, after that, with my children grown and fewer demands at home, I was able to help Pauline sometimes with her quilting. I think I was never much real substantial help but she enjoyed having someone to talk to while she worked. She taught me how to hand stitch along seams making as small a stitch as possible and, as we worked, she’d tell me some amazing stories.

Like the time she was passionately set on giving to Billy Graham’s European Crusade. But she had no money. She talked to the Lord about it and told Him her desires. She was sewing drapes at that time but had only small orders, barely paying her bills. Shortly after she prayed about her desire to help Billy Graham, she got a call from our regional hospital. They had added a wing and wanted her to do the drapes, an answer only the Lord could have supplied her, she said with that exultant smile of hers, her pale blue eyes glistening.

She told me about her trip to the Holy Land, not only the miracle of how she was able to go, but about what happened there. She was standing outside Jesus’ empty tomb with her group when it started sprinkling rain. Holding her umbrella, her purse under her arm, she suddenly wasn’t there any longer.With an intense glow of joy on her finely wrinkled face, she told me that she felt a strong shudder as there’d been a big clap of thunder and then, instead of standing in the rain, she was sitting on Jesus’ knees. In heaven. “I could feel the bones in His legs,” she said. She asked Him if she could stay and He told her Oh, no, that she had more to do on earth yet and she’d have to go back. But He assured her that when her work was done, she could come back to Him. In a twinkling she was again standing in the rain holding to her umbrella. Nothing had change. Except for Pauline.

When she returned from that trip Pauline began sewing feverishly. She’d call me and ask the sizes of my little grandchildren. “I’m going to make them some pajamas,” she’d say. When I’d go to her house she’d give me lapsize quilts or ask me how to send garments to the orphanages our church gives to. She was driven to sew, dawn to dark. She explained one day that she believed if she sewed up the stacks of fabrics she had until they were all gone, then Jesus would let her come home.

Though I didn’t want her to leave, I did help her when I could. And in those years she sewed tons of children’s garments, pillows and throws, smocks for the elderly, and quilts, quilts, quilts.

When Pauline died, there were still stacks of fabric in her house. I guess God didn’t require she sew every last piece. But she left with a certain hope and joy that’s invaded my very thinking all these years. And now as I make this quilt I can just see her smiling and encouraging me, her shoulders shaking with anticipation like a kid about to lick an ice cream. I’m blessed with other wonderful, joyful quilting friends and sisters. But I think Pauline, next to my mother, may have taught me the most as she stitched and prayed and told her stories.

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