Tag Archives: family

my brother

Today, “Jerm” came and preached at chapel. It’s not a formal sermon, just a sharing with the students, the 6th-12th graders. He often takes that role at the school, Jeremy is incredible at relating to people and truth. He began by sharing a lead-in that a few of us from youth group had heard before, an interesting story about the time his whole, 6 member family, lived in a 500 square foot apartment. I thought I knew where he was going and where he would finish. I know many, many of Jeremy’s stories. We kinda tag – team oversee our leadership initiative at youth group together with an incredible team of young adults and Jeremy’s also young and beautiful wife, Tiff.

We read most or many of the same books and/or blogs on one another’s suggestion. We have a shared calling: spiritual formation, and a shared passion, youth. We are both closet mystics and writers. We see the world in so many ways the same. We value similar things and measure our lives by similar standards. Jeremy and his sweet, sweet wife, Tiff, are the greatest treasure Alabama has ever afforded me. They make being here make sense to me. Most of the people who get me at all in this place, came my way by their introduction. They see me, for who I am and require nothing more of me than that I be that person.

Today, while Jeremy transitioned from his story to some new and needed place…I began to cry. At his words so beautiful and at the fact that I knew the place that those words were mined. A teacher leaned over and commented to me, “He sounds like  you.” I smiled.

He does, I sound like him and Tiff and all of our band of fellows, somehow made more…brothers. I’ve been aching for, chasing home all over the highways of late…I’ve been thousands of miles…But, it is in the eyes and words of my brothers and sisters, those particular ones who recognize our kinship and our commonalities, that I find relief and reward…home.

I struggle to describe who this young man is in my, our family’s life. I can’t carry the weight of what is between us in titles and terms of respect.

So, I introduce him, at least in my mind, as what he is…particularly, not just universally… my brother.


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My Daddy bought the second house built in Green Acres when he worked for the Soil Conservation Service of the Federal Government. (The builder lived fifty years in the first.) Then he married my mama and they raised me, the elementary me, in that house. Little did my Daddy know how very well he had chosen. When the next house was finished, a couple and their two sons moved in. That family: Hugh Nelson and Geraldine Maddux, he, the Dairy Science man at UGA and she an accountant in UGA’s Food Services and their sons, Richard (Dickey) and Hugh, probably buoyed my life more than anyone save my incomparable Nana and Dada. Readers of this blog may have already come to realize that I spent most of my childhood’s time at Nana and Dada’s. What time I was not there…and not at school, I was at Gerry and Nelson’s. Gerry would bring something over – she was always cooking something incredible… and leave with me. There was a trail well-worn between the English Boxwoods that formed the “barrier” between our yards. When I was no longer a newborn, Dickey or Hugh would come get me everyday after school and ride me home on their shoulders. These were teenage boys…but I was their first love. When I got over to their house they would play with me awhile until their Daddy got home. Then they would start their homework and chores and I would sit still in Nelson’s lap and we would read the paper or eat us a before dinner snack. Usually we had raisins, my favorite. I ate them with Nelson everyday. My mama didn’t know that I liked them, because we never kept them around. One day she went over to Gerry and Nelson’s to get me for bed, although I am pretty sure that they bought a baby bed for me to stay in at their house, if I got tired. Mama saw me with my raisin box. “Honey, you don’t like raisins, do you?” I crumpled my brow and began a very adamant reply, “Us do, us do like raisins.” It was Nelson’s favorite story. These random neighbors, who had no tie to us, but love, moved into our lives and filled in so many of its empty spaces. My Daddy traveled Monday through Friday most every week for the first seven years of my life. Daddy was a stranger, Mama had Laura, my sister who was so very colicky and cried everyday until she started to school. So I stayed with Nana and Dada and when not there, at Gerry and Nelson’s. Mine was a sweetly rescued life indeed. There have been few more loved children than I. I may not have been the friendliest child, all my children are … thank you, God; but once I took to you, I was your’s forever in an endearing sort of way. I had a few things going for me: I slept well and long ( unlike Laura), I talked very well for a little person, and I could and would sit still for hours wherein I would happily turn pages of magazines and picture books. I was pretty easy. When Gerry and Nelson moved from Green Acres when I was about seven, we made the three mile journey to see them all the time, especially at every holiday. Gerry grew gorgeous roses and she cut them for every event in my life: birthday dinners, graduations, bridal showers, and my wedding. As I grew older, Gerry made all my favorites any time I would stop by to see her and Nelson. When I was fourteen we moved to their neighborhood. We were closer again. I’d stop by on my bike with tangled necklaces. Nelson could always get them unknotted in a matter of minutes. I can see him in his chair, under his bright, reading light, working out my tangles for me.  When I started to drive and go all the time, I didn’t stop by so much. I only saw them on the special days. But I had to pass their home to leave the neighborhood, and even that gave me a sense of security and comfort I can hardly explain. Both Dickey and Hugh married and had fine children who now have children. Nelson, who worked like no man I know: hard at his job, his hobbies, his yard, and all the honey do’s Gerry continued to put on him way into his eighties… died three years ago. Trent and I drove back for the funeral. I lost Dada at 10. Nelson at 40. It felt the same. Gerry looked tired. She had never look tired before. Dickey, the oldest son, a handsome charmer, the consummate MC, was talking to, thanking folks in the huge crowd that followed to the cemetery in the twenty degree blowing wind. Finally, he turned into me …and picking me up… like every other time, finally wept….for the man who loved us both with his very best.

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an angle to chase …the myth of beauty

Beauty is a veil accentuating, never lifted.

Like heady stalks of Queen Ann’s lace among carefully bred roses, they shared the silvered vase. Gathered freely along the red clayey roadside, they shouted to the wheeled passerby, “Break me free!” And those long emancipated from labor, haggard with the standing duties of frivolity, slowed and grabbed the grandest, heads large and full of dreams, gay company.

Wild and beautiful, Beatrice Ferrell was welcomed among those who spent summers, long past childhood, in play. Young women of her day sought husbands of their station; those becoming modern, a life at a stenographer’s wage. But for Bea, life was too grand a thing for such. She wanted to see and to be seen and to revel in all that the booming, better times brought.

She caught his eye aboard his boat that motored up and down the wide Chattahoochee, seeking a breeze. The smokestacks raised his name high above the flat plain that was their home, Columbus, Georgia. A bustling river town before the dams lit the south, Columbus, was an inland port city through which cotton and crops flowed on their way to more southern climes.

Her father steered the track bound engine. She lived safe in a hamlet home, five blocks south of the finer things. Bea schooled alongside them. Private secondary education was yet a rarity in the south. Tutors of old fell away with the war and schooling never did again warrant the premium it garnered in the north. But college cleaved.

The well-heeled traveled for schooling in the ways of their own. Connections were forged in sacred settings with robes and rings.  The best families found theirs a place at Oxford or Cambridge more comfortable with the old ways than those of the Yankee’s. More practical young men, their start assured, trained at Tech and The University and challenged old enemies upon grass and mud fields.

But in the summers, the heirs to textiles and land picked the wildflowers that sprung up along the roadways of home.


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