FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: Sittin’ at a king’s table for Mother’s Day
Welcome to the “front porch.” Hope you all are well and safe.
There’s just something about Mother’s Day.
You noticed on Sunday that you didn't see any fireworks. And you didn't see cedar trees decked with flashing lights, an aisle full of candy stacked to the ceiling, or enough turkey and dressing to feed the Crimson Tide. That’s because this is Mother’s Day, and all you expect to see is a bouquet of flowers and a big smile on your mama’s face.
Oh, we love all the hoopla associated with the other holidays, but we love Mother’s Day in a special way. It takes us back to a time of good old-fashioned simplicity. That’s because that’s the way mama is. It doesn’t matter if she’s the president’s mama or Coca-Cola Mike’s mama, Maw-Maw, mamas bring no frills to the table, just pure love and downhome simplicity.
I guess I learned this lesson sitting all the years at Grandma’s table. Maybe it meant even more since, later, we only had that privilege a couple times a year. Her long rectangular table was always the center of her home – figuratively speaking – and it was the first place we went when we pulled up into her driveway. You really weren’t home until she sat you down and put some hot cornbread in front of you.
Her table was the consummation of that gradual trip into the South. By the time you get to the Chattahoochee, you know Grandma’s table is getting close. You’re already seeing plenty of kudzu hanging off trees, tall pines surveying the distant hills, and miles and miles of that bright Georgia red clay. Seeing those sights, you know you’ll soon be at that little red-brick house on Truitt Avenue.
We say things were simple there at Grandma’s, but that term may be a bit relative. Simplicity doesn’t mean scarce or meager, not by a long shot. For a week Grandma Miller treated all of my family like a king. She gave ‘simplicity’ a whole new meaning.
The first question you’d hear inside her modest home is, “What’d you want tonight for supper? I’ve got collard greens, turnip greens, or mustard greens.”
You don’t get that verbal menu handed to you at a run-of-the-mill table. Ah, there really is no place like home.
And that first welcoming meal was just Grandma’s appetizer. For breakfast: eggs and grits and hot homemade biscuits with sorghum syrup and crisp bacon and coffee – cream and sugar, please – and orange juice.
Grandma always had the eggs and biscuits on as soon as you awoke. There was no alarm clock, so – for a rare few days in the year – your body got up when it was good and ready to get up, not a moment sooner.
Then, in the evening, you could look for hot cornbread with homegrown green beans, fresh corn, onion, and whatever the “greens” of the day was, all topped off with a glass of buttermilk and cornbread.
You all understand this, I know, because you were born and bred in the South. And if you weren’t, you have learned to adapt to the rare amenities the South offers with unparalleled hospitality.
After each meal – feast, I should say – my family and I sat and talked with Grandma awhile, catching up with everything from the past half a year, then we’d clean off the table while she washed the dishes. I might try to wash sometimes, but she’d usually refuse. I may have been the king that week, but she was always the boss.
We’d run around during the day – catching up with the boys down at the Y and Coca-Cola Mike and Glory – then when the sun retired, we always gathered together again, to sit and write or read, while Grandma caught up with the Apostle Paul or John the Revelator.
Talk about breaking life down to its most simple elements before heading back west and tackling a hundred Texas challenges that wait on the back burner! Those blessed coming-home Georgia trips were healthy for the soul, just like sitting at a table with mustard, turnip, or collard greens was healthy for body and soul alike.
No, I cannot think of Mother’s Day without thinking of Grandma’s table and how simple life seemed to get whenever I could make my way to it. Oh, Grandma’s been gone now for almost two decades, but that didn't matter this past Sunday.
We were sittin’ at her table on Mother’s Day, just as before.
Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text 972-824-5197.