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This Wonderful Life

June 18, 2009

This Wonderful Life: Welcome home, no matter where you are

It must be nice to spend your young life in a place where the physical and social landscape feels like home.

I grew up in the South, in a part of Florida that is securely under the buckle of the Bible Belt. Sure, there was all that drawling Southern charm, Spanish moss and porches in the old section of town laced with gingerbread and appointed with swings and rockers.

But if you pitted zealous obedience against openminded curiosity, obedience always emerged victorious. If you thought your opinions might run counter to the status quo, you didn’t speak too loudly in restaurants or let too many people know how you felt and thought.

Everyone was presumed Republican until proven Libertarian.

I never felt at home. This week, I was back in the South — not in my hometown, but in Richmond, Va., where my Aunt Vera lives. I haven’t been there since last year, when my grandmother suffered a double blow from a bout of shingles and then a stroke, and things looked bad. It was a most difficult trip — draining in the extreme. My grandmother survived that, only to die a couple months later.

In the South, stories often start out looking very cheery, only to take unexpectedly dark turns.

``I’ll always remember the Fourth of July picnic where Miss Marguerite brought that delicious peach pie and Clem’s oldest boy lost three fingers in a freak tug-a-war accident.’’ This trip doesn’t take a turn that dark.

Throughout my life, I have enjoyed visiting my Aunt Vera more than just about anything else.

When I was a little girl, her attic was a nirvana of dress-up possibilities. On one trip, she allowed me to wear her silver fox fur stole throughout the entire visit. My mother made me remove it at mealtimes, but I vaguely recall sleeping with the thing.

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This Wonderful Life
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    November 25, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: I wish someone had told me Disclaimer: Because my son more or less demanded that I stop using him and his life as material for my column back when he was 12 or 13, I want to make it perfectly clear to all my readers (and any legal professionals who are now retained or may be retained at some future time by aforementioned son) that this column is not about him. It’s about me. The fact that he happened to turn 21 on Saturday is mere coincidence. So help me God.

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  • This Wonderful Life: A view through bare branches Every morning, Bee and I stand at the end of the driveway waiting for her bus and we look up into the branches of the elm tree that arches over the drive.

    November 5, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: To Posey on her fourth So here we are, on the other side of 3-years-old, and it seems we both survived it intact. It wasn’t easy, but perhaps it made us both stronger.

    October 30, 2009

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    October 8, 2009

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    October 2, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: I sssssseeeeeee you there The first thing you should know is that I used to suffer from a snake phobia. The operative word there is phobia. It wasn’t just a matter of disliking snakes. It wasn’t a fear of being bitten. It wasn’t a simple reluctance to touch their impossibly dry, nimble bodies.

    September 24, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: What’s so funny? My kids, I hope In my experience as a three-time parent, there is something absolutely, spiritually magical about the first time your child cracks a joke.

    September 17, 2009

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    September 10, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: A harvest that’s good for the soul Signs of harvest are all around. The afternoon sun glows amber over the fields and the farm stands are filled to overflowing with vegetables and fruit. We’re lucky to live in a place where we can have such an immediate connection to the food we eat.

    September 3, 2009