Two weeks in the South…

Two weeks in the South…

If you’ve been reading my blogs for any length of time at all, then you know I’m Southern.  I was born in the Delta of Mississippi and grew up in Memphis, Tennessee.  My roots are there.  I fell in love and got married there many years ago.  My children were born there.  I have a long list of family and friends there.  And, yes, I still have a Southern accent…
 
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It was the first day of October and a Wednesday I’d been looking forward to.  I was flying home to the South.  It had been three long years since I had flown into Memphis…and that had been on the sad occasion of my beloved sister Gerry’s funeral after she had lost her courageous battle with ALS.  As the plane circled and descended into Memphis, I picked out a few familiar landmarks:  the winding Mississippi River, the Memphis-Arkansas bridge, the “Pyramid” and LeBonheur Children’s Hospital.  Soon the plane was landing.

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Memphis skyline from the air. (Wikipedia)

Penny and Mike picked me up at the airport and we headed back to their home.  They were headed south to Gulf Shores the following morning for a few days, so this gave us some time together until the following week.  Penny fixed a delicious meal (including one of my favorites – Southern Fried Okra!) and we enjoyed time together before they drove me 45 minutes out to Sharon and Tommy’s home.  I call Sharon “my baby niece” but she’s actually only two and a half years younger than I.  She is my beloved late sister Dot’s only child.  After the death of her father when she was four months old, we all lived together and Sharon and I grew up like sisters.

I had flown with painful “fluid behind my eardrums” diagnosed by my doctor on Monday and once I arrived in Memphis, it proceeded to get much worse.  Unfortunately, I was sick!  My long-time Memphis allergies had hit with a vengeance.   Sadly, I missed my dinner with my dear friends from Lakeside Hospital where I had worked as a Registered Nurse with emotionally disturbed children for ten years.  I hope to make it up to them in the Spring!  Sharon took me to her doctor on Thursday where I got a shot and a CBC which verified it was allergies.  I was a sick puppy nonetheless.  The shot was a big boost and I felt much better the next day.  Sharon and I made it to the luncheon at Grisanti’s with my high school friends I had not seen in so many years!  It was wonderful to see everyone and, somehow, the years just melted away.

Below:  My KHS buddy David and I.  David is the youngest member of our graduating class and I am the next-to-the-youngest member!  We had not seen each other for 51 years!!  He is the same wonderful guy as always.  He has a PhD and is a well-loved professor at a local university!

 

Below:  Kathy is my best friend since the ninth-grade at KHS and I’m amazed to say that’s 55 years!  She is as beautiful as ever!  We see each other after any length of time and just pick right up where we left off.  We had a “sleep-over” one night during my visit and her sweet husband patiently put up with us pretending we were sixteen all over again.  We had the 60’s music playing in the background and reminiscing over days gone by.  Before we knew it, it was 1:00 a.m.!   Her sweet husband Bill treated us to a delicious dinner at Houston’s, a Memphis landmark for the past 31 years.   I enjoyed meeting one of their three sons, a very handsome young man.  I also introduced her and her sweet grandson and granddaughter to ancestry.com and we began a search for their family tree.  Her grandchildren thought that was cool and will be a big help with it!

 Below:  I was so happy to see my cousin, Joy, and fellow KHS graduate at the luncheon as well (although she’s 6 years younger than I).  You can tell by looking at us that we come from the same strong McGregor stock!  Her grandmother was my father’s sister and one of my favorite aunts!  We took one look at one another and marveled at how much we favored one another!

 

I loved my time with Sharon and Tommy.  Sharon is a wonderful cook and made several terrific Southern meals – including delicious homemade meatloaf, her amazing mashed potatoes, Southern vegetables and hot cornbread.  Another night she made delicious homemade chicken noodle soup and salad.  I was getting a bit spoiled!

The following Tuesday, we headed to the “hills” of Mississippi for a visit with my precious sister Eunice and her dear husband Eddie.  We had so much fun with them!  They live on 5 beautiful, treed acres with a barn and a beautiful horse named Cherokee.  Eddie is the “horse whisperer” and can make a horse do anything!  Unfortunately, since his hip replacement, he can no longer ride but still enjoys Cherokee.  Eunice is a great Southern cook and made a delicious dinner of pork chops, mashed potatoes, squash, green beans and hot cornbread.  Sharon made the dessert which was one of my favorites – banana pudding.  Another day, Eddie took us all out to dinner for another Southern feast.  They have a wide front porch all the way across the front of their home and each morning would find us out there sitting in the rockers or porch swing, enjoying our coffee and visiting.  Eddie recently turned 83 but doesn’t look a day over 70 and gets told all the time that he looks like George W. Bush!

While we were there, we all drove to Pontotoc, Mississippi, to visit the cemetery where my parents, grandparents and other ancestors are born.  The old white church has been taken down but, other than that, it looks the same.  I took photos of a lot of the tombstones to use with my family history research.  After the Guinn Cemetery, we drove over to the Springville Cemetery where my maternal grandparents and other maternal ancestors are born.  Again, I took photos for the family history book I intend to finish when I’m snowbound this Iowa winter!

 Below:  my beautiful sister Eunice at Guinn Cemetery.  She is 11 years older than I am.  We are the remaining two of the four McGregor daughters.  I promised her I would be back in the Spring.  We cannot wait so long to see each other again!

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We left Pontotoc and headed for New Albany, Mississippi, where we visited their very neat town square…complete with several quaint antique shops and my favorite bakery:  Sugaree’s!  I can’t begin to describe how delicious everything they bake is!  We bought one slice of their amazing white cake with homemade caramel frosting and two chocolate cupcakes to share four ways!  I would love to have bought the whole caramel cake!  They ship frozen by the way, so check it out.  It’s unbelievable!

On Thursday afternoon, we said a sad goodbye to Eunice and Eddie and headed north to visit my niece Cindy.  We ate dinner out together that night at McAlister’s (although I skipped my favorite sweet tea since it was so late!) and enjoyed our visit and laughter.  Cindy teaches music history at the local college and could easily have been a concert pianist.  She entertained us later with a few numbers which I loved.  I videotaped it but I’m under strict instructions not to share it!  But I will say she’s amazing!

Below:  Cindy, Sharon and I attempted a “selfie” with my iPad (an iPad photo isn’t too flattering) but I think it turned out cute!  

 

On Friday, we drove over to Greenwood, Mississippi, to eat lunch at the Crystal Grill.  I had a Southern vegetable plate with cornbread muffins and a slice of their famous chocolate pie with mile-high-meringue!  It was so good!  After lunch, we trekked around downtown in the rain, enjoying the well-known Mississippi shops.  I purchased a small pottery candle holder and a ceramic cross.  Sharon bought me a beautiful robin egg blue/green ceramic soap dish which I love.  (Thankfully, I made it home safely with everything!).  That night, Cindy prepared a delicious tortilla chicken casserole, fresh green beans and salad.  She had also made a wonderful apple spice cake!

Below:  In the Delta of Mississippi, Greenwood is “the cotton capital of the world”.  We saw field after field of beautiful snow-white cotton.

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On Saturday, we said another sad goodbye and headed back to Memphis…to Penny and Mike’s home.  We enjoyed hanging out together, having a delicious Southern dinner and watching a few favorite shows on television.  Penny and I did some shopping the day before I flew back.  I did manage to get it all in my suitcase and it wasn’t over the limit!  On Wednesday morning, Mike and Penny drove me to the airport – in the midst of Memphis rush hour traffic – but we made it with time to spare.

It was a wonderful two weeks filled with lots of memories and I’m looking forward to returning in the early Spring!

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