Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Blessing of Being a Half - Southern Mama

I have a dis-attachment, somehow, to the cares of this world. I think it has a lot to do with having a strong cultural background and then living in a different place.

My father is from rural Alabama and my mother is from suburban Massachusetts. We grew up in a beautiful, wealthy town, south of Boston. But the culture of my father's life was with us every moment. We travelled to Alabama many times. My Uncle was a minister and had a small church, packed with the sweetest people you could ever meet. Many cried with joy, or repentance, at his revival meetings.

Have you ever heard the beautiful, humble songs of the saints in those old rural churches, down south? The melody echoes in my memory, even after all these years. The thought of them brings tears to my eyes.

When poor, gospel country clashes with rich, majestic values, there is a shaking of the character.  There is a yearning for a life that is true and poor (in worldly goods) and grateful.

There is a reason this old reserved New Englander has a tremendous attachment to the old southern ways.  I live in a cold society. It is full of culture and worldliness. But my heart is in the memories of the old Alabama life.

It is the world where Grandma wore pretty dresses, and spoke with such a deep accent, I could never understand her.  She had the sweetest heart!  I can still see her smiling, walking across the hill on the family property.

I remember her old house. It was humble and precious and just like something you would see in a movie from the 1930's. It was a white, 2 story, with a large covered front porch. The furniture was clean and neat and simple. Mothers in those days would set out tablecloths and bring you a drink with lots of ice. They would make sure you were happy!  The home and the neighborhood were nothing like the suburban area in which I lived.  It seemed like rural Alabama homes held the hardest working, strong families you could ever meet.

 I remember living there for part of a summer, as a teen, and being given some lovely dresses. They fit me perfectly and were homemade. I only wish I still had them. You can't find beautifully made fashion like that anymore.

The Bible was the book everyone wanted to read. It sat predominately where all could see it. It was treated with the greatest respect.

I cannot even remember anyone not going to church. Everyone got dressed up and went together.  Oh, and the music of that time is outstanding.  Famous gospel singers openly loved the Lord. You could hear it in their songs. They knew where the real money came from - singing the old godly songs, knowing the reward was in Heaven.

The homes were neatly kept and lovingly cared for.  The summer heat was intense but just right. There were gardens and delicious home-cooking.  Neighbors watched out for neighbors and were friendly and thoughtful.

The sermons in the old country churches would melt the heart of the coldest sinner. They touched the soul and would never leave you. This is the southern culture that has stayed with me all these years. And so I listen to old  gospel songs, from the likes of Roy Acuff and J.D. Sumner to help me stay strong in this cold-hearted world around me.

Sometimes I wonder what will become of my children, who have never been down south. But I know that my habits and values from those memories, are vivid in their daily lives. Somehow, they may just become half-southern without even realizing how it happened.

The reality of what I crave from this heritage, is old American values frozen in time. That is what the southern lesson is to me. It is the memory of what was, and what I must keep alive each and every day of my life.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Daddy's Presence - Holiness from the Garage.

The Sermons - What Daddy Gave Me This Week.

Somber Changes at our Estate - The Shabby Garden.

Find Home-keeping Inspiration, in Mrs.White's book - For The Love of Christian Homemaking.  Paperback, 274 pages.

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


Always Learning said...

I very much enjoy your gentle writings about being a wife and mother...They are very inspirational. Thank you!


Anonymous said...

I hardly ever comment on a post, but this one reminds me of my childhood. I did not live in the deep south, but I very vividly remember my grandmother in the garden, her dress and house apron pressed, and when you entered her home, all you felt was love. You never left her home hungry or thirsty in body or spirit. You are also right about the gospel singing, sometime you would wonder how a such a beautiful voice could come out of someone you saw picking green beans in the field the day before. I too wish we could go back to those simpler times!

Elle said...

My grandmother was also from south Alabama. I never lived there but I did get to go visit where she raised. It was a tiny little 4 room old slat house with no plumbing or electricity.

That seems really amazing to me that they managed to raise 8 kids in that house.

And her daddy was a preacher. She used to talk about him preaching in a "bush arbor". It seems he didn't have a regular church building but that didn't stop him.

People back then were really amazing!

RebeccaL. said...

That is one of the things I am most thankful for, living here in the South. I wish we lived deeper in, to be honest. I love our accents, our heritage (my people were very poor, my grandmother didn't have indoor plumbing until the 1980s, so rest assured they didn't own slaves or have family that owned them). My love of all things home probably has it's roots right here in the South and my heritage. I often tell my children they should really feel blessed that God saw fit to put them in the South. We are really sheltered from a lot of the things going on in the other parts of the nation, such as CA or NY. Those things we see on the news coming out of those states seem as foreign to us sometimes as things coming from other nations.

Amelia said...

Oh, I loved reading this. My accent is very strong, my daughters tell me I have the strongest southern accent in the family. It's so strong that an oriental woman thought I was speaking some kind of high end English from London when she overheard me in the shoe department, she had lived in London. I had never heard of such a thing but I think I know the strong inflections gave her that impression. I was complimented once, my daughter courting a math professor thought my accent was charming. When I meet a sister from down say, Georgia or Alabama I usually hit it right off with them, we are like sisters in personality usually. I'm almost afraid of ever doing a video on my blog because of my strong accent, so many people do not respect people with a Southern inflection...but then I think of Dr. Red Duke. *big smile* He had one of the strongest southern accents ever.

Just loved your descriptions of the old homes...the cotton dresses...the Southern Hospitality, yes, just making people happy. The churches sounded so nice...Just so nice. I wish things were like that again, at least people back then had a little bit more of a choice in nice churches with sweet people. It reminds me of a good day from 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.

My daddy went to a private military school in Biloxi Mississippi, Gulfport Military Academy. I have roots in a way from New Orleans also, it's in my blood. My Italian grandma was from there, so for me? To sit on the Mississippi river just brings such joy to my heart, there is a part of me that is there as those riverboats go up and down the river.

This was so interesting to read, I'm going to have to re-read it several times. Just loved it! I'm so glad you had a link to this blog entry at the end of your latest entry from December of this year.

Merry Christmas! ~Amelia