2nd Pew Left Hand Side, VBS & Deep and Wide

I’m sitting beside Mama’s hospital bed watching her sleep and thinking about the heritage of love and self-sacrifice she’s given this family.  Maybe it’s the nostalgia of the moment, but I keep thinking about some words I wrote this week about family. It has me wanting to share them with any of you who may not follow Southern Belleview. (FYI, Southern Belleview is a site where I join four other authors who are “down write southern” in a weekly free-for-all on whatever topic we decide to launch. I would love it if you would sign up over there, too!) This week we did an exercise where you develop your unique biography by filling in the blanks of a template. Here’s mine.

Where I’m From

I am from gumbo thick farming ground running alongside the Mississippi River, from Pixi Stix Candy Straws and wild blackberries.

I am from a matchbox house on a dirt road soothed by an attic fan with noisy, rhythmic, surround sound breeze.

I am from Grandma’s blue hydrangeas and scratchy green cotton stalks dripping with early morning dew and forming gracious canopies around your head while you chop cuckleburs at their feet.
I am from “Chase Don’t Touch the Ground” in Papa’s equipment shed and “That reminds me of a story”, from Papaw Stone preaching Jesus long and loud, from Mississippi’s Charlotte Ann the Forestry Queen and Louisiana’s James Ed carrying the boot-tough genes of mountain people transplanted to the Delta.

I am from women toting a meat and three sides to fields white unto harvest where busy men nonetheless braked for midday feasts spread across tailgates and tuckered out children napped in foot-boards, vinyl seats, and warm back dashes of moving vehicles, from “sit up pretty” and “drying it up unless you wanted something else to cry about.”

I am from the second pew left hand side, VBS, and “Deep and Wide.”

From stories of a gritty woman birthing number ten, nightgown of number nine secured ‘neath the same bed’s frame, chubby honey coated fingers occupied with a feather. I’m from this anchored boy child growing up and choosing fatherhood after blood parent tired of real world living with a young wife and stair-step girl children.

I am from black and white photos heaped in card board boxes, hymns sung around a well-worn piano, family stories told more times than a few, and long, tall shadows cast by one generation challenging the next to remember who we are and where we’re from.

Hugs, Shellie

Here’s the link to the Writing Exercise “Where I’m From” — If you compose yours, I’d love to read it. 

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About Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Known as The Belle of All Things Southern, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is a national best-selling author, speaker, radio host, and columnist from Louisiana.
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25 Responses to 2nd Pew Left Hand Side, VBS & Deep and Wide

  1. grammyjj says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this. And I swear we must be blood relatives somewhere along the line! So many of those rememberances are mine as well! Lordy weren’t we raised right!?!

  2. tanya says:

    (hands spread high & low) DEEP and (hands spread side to side) WIDE…… now I will be singing that all night, I just promise not to do the hand gestures when I go out to eat this evening! Enjoyed remembering great times, one’s you ‘chatted’ about. Prayers still being lifted for Big C THE Forestry Queen and Queen of ALL of you! Big C needs a crown for all that !

  3. Nicole Seitz says:

    This is beautiful, my friend, and I feel like I know you even better! Love your sproingy curls…Thinking of you and your family.

  4. Susan Hatcher says:

    I have many fond memories that parallel yours totally. Great memories of me, my sister, and my two girl cousins singing Deep and Wide in front of the whole church while our grandma beamed from ear to ear probably on the fourth pew right hand side. And best memories of us all at VBS at the same little country church with an outhouse out back. Mud pie tea parties and backyard watermelon eating too. Wonderful summers.

  5. Oh Mom! I love this! Gave me chills and had me smiling.

  6. Glad you enjoyed it, Jess. You should do yours!

  7. Jessica says:

    Oh, I so loved this, emailing it to my sister now!

  8. Melissa says:

    I absolutely love this and all your other writing as well! I swear we must belong to some elite sisterhood, because my parents and great-aunt still occupy that same second pew, left hand side in the little country church where my two sisters and I grew up. I’ve printed the template and can’t wait to write my own. God bless you!

    • And God bless you, my sister/friend 🙂 You need to tell me where your folks are still occupying second pew, left hand side. And when you complete yours I’m going to want to see it. 🙂 Promise?!

      • Melissa says:

        My folks still attend Antioch Southern Missionary Baptist Church in Logan County, Kentucky (southwest part of the state right on the TN line). This is the same church my great-grandparents raised their children in and my oldest daughter was the 5th generation of my family to be baptized in this church. I’m working on my template now and will be happy to share it with you when I’m finished!

  9. Awesome! I’ll be watching for it!

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Shellie. I’m so glad to hear your Mom is doing better! I’ve finished my template and as promised will be happy to share it with you. Having never done this before I’m wondering if I should e-mail the poem to you or if I post it here.

      • Melissa, thx for the support for Mama. As for your bio, I would love for you to post it right here. But– if you’re not comfortable doing so, you can email it.

      • Melissa says:

        I am from the beauty of Kentucky hollers, from RC cola and eating tomatoes straight from the garden on hot summer days.

        I am from the little white house on the hill with big old trees and lots of shade, a pond to fish and sunset views that remind you God is THE artist!

        I am from the dainty little lily of the valleys and sweet smelling mimosa tree at Grandma’s house and the fresh bales of itchy hay Grandpa made on summer afternoons. From over-my-head sunflowers and cornstalks and from bright yellow mums come fall.

        I am from “Consider the Lilies” sung around Mama’s piano, canning beans and tomatoes, making pies, and naturally curly hair, from Jimmy Lee and Judith Elaine, and Wiles, White, Hark, Daniel, Ruby and Christine.

        I am from the long held belief that I’m only stubborn when I’m right and most of our little quirks can be traced back to the “Jess” gene.

        From “pretty is as pretty does” and Grandpa always calling me “boy” just because that was his way.

        I am from baptized in a creek where we sang “Shall We Gather at the River”, asking Jesus into my heart as I sat in my Daddy’s lap with my Mama right beside me reading from her Bible, and Mama with her three little girls singing “Thank You Lord for Your Blessings on Me” in front of the church.

        I am from strong, proud men who served in three wars, and strong, faith filled women who know their true strength is from God. Generation have been born, lived, and died in the same area I am still blessed to call home. I am from a place where I will always be someone’s daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter. I am from famous apple pies and divine blackberry dumplings, and we thank the Lord I inherited Grandma’s cornbread baking abilities, while my sister was bestowed Grandma’s knack for perfect pie crusts!

        From the story of love at first sight, when he saw her singing in the church choir and leaned over to tell his best friend that he was going to marry that girl…which he did over 41 years ago. And when a know-it-all teenager told him there was no such thing as love at first sight he just grinned and assured me that someday I would find out there certainly was such a thing. I am so blessed to say that Daddy, as usual, was right!

        I am from boxes and albums of treasured old photos, the cameo pin brought from France in WW1, the sugar chest of long ago that sits in my living room and the holler where my roots are deep and strong. It has been said that history repeats itself and I am inclined to believe that it does, for I continue to see glimpses of those gone before me in the precious children I have today.

  10. Linda H. says:

    Gosh, I identify with so much of this Shelley. Takes me back to simpler times. My mom occupied the 2nd pew left also but her spot is now empty. But she has her mansion on the hilltop now. So glad to hear your mom is doing well.

  11. Thanks, Linda. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece and thankful your mama’s in the arms of Jesus! You know, it has been SO much fun to hear from “2nd pewers”. We might have to start a club!

  12. Melissa! For some reason, I couldn’t put this in the thread below your bio, but I tried. 🙂 THANK YOU for that sweet gift. It was truly a blessing just now to read your words. And yes, much of what you said resonated with my own memories. Isn’t this exercise just the thing?! Please share it with your peeps and tell them they can post theirs here, too. I am loving it!

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