Bethany cried because she just missed it that much. We were sitting in Taylor Grocery, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant about thirty minutes south of Oxford, waiting on our catfish dinners when I first noticed the tears.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“I just miss it”
“This is your home, isn’t it?”
She nodded her head and dabbed at her eyes. Moments before, an elderly man clothed in gray coveralls and a well-worn hat emblazoned with a CAT logo had shuffled up to the table next to us holding tired fiddle; they both looked as though they had seen better days. After he coaxed it through a melody none of us knew, we applauded his effort and he grinned a toothless smile. Through the mournful refrain of the fiddle, she saw her Granddaddy, the one I heard so much about, the one who also played the fiddle, the one who always had a quick smile and a good story. She saw her early years, spent surrounded by family and friends, and rooted deep in the Mississippi way of life. She saw her life the way it had been, the way it could have been- if things hadn’t changed.
Suddenly, I realized that this was more than a place. It was more than just a state on her birth certificate. It was more than a school she had attended. This was the only home she had ever known. It was always tucked away deep inside her heart- through all the moves and all the changes, across continents, states, and schools- this was her home and it would always be. This was her beloved Mississippi.
I looked around the restaurant and began to understand what set this place apart in her memory. Big round tables covered in red-checked tablecloths held plates of piping hot fried catfish and hushpuppies and sweating glasses of sweet tea. Families and friends gathered around swapping stories and letting their children dance in the floor to the homespun music of the house band. These people trusted one another, loved one another and were overly welcoming to those of us who chanced to visit their charitable domain. Never before had I set foot in the place, yet I felt more at home than ever.
|From Oxford Trip|
We’re all from somewhere; most of us even point to a place on the map we call home. I was born in Arkansas, and that’s just how it is. That’s where my parents happened to be living at the time of my birth. These folks were Mississippi born and they’ll tell you that it was because of the grace of God. That’s how they see it. I can’t say I blame them. Sitting at the table that night, I wished I was born there too.