Okra and other fine traditions

Trip Start Sep 04, 2010
Trip End Sep 30, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Alabama
Thursday, September 23, 2010

The phone rang early. It was Opal. They just called from the clinic, she said. Your Dad doesn't need to come in for his radiation today. They want him to rest a day. But y'all can still come over and see us. We can go have lunch at Ryans.

So, that was the first switch of the day. Get up Matt, I said, we're leaving for Jasper at 11. Granddaddy doesn't need you to take him to the clinic, but they want us to go to lunch at Ryans.

Ryans is a tradition in Jasper, you pay as you come in, order your drink, everything. Then, it's wide-open spaces, sit where you please, go through the themed buffets as many times as you like. Somebody will come by to set bread on your table, or refill your glass. Ryans has a handicapped parking spot right at the door, which we occupy, of course. Matt pushes Granddaddy's wheelchair, I hold the first door open, Opal catches the second one, and steps ahead to pay. They like Ryans because the wheelchair fits nicely by the first table, move one chair, and slide right in.

I get instructions from my Dad, he wants fish, and green beans, and some corn, if they have it. A muffin too. Matt makes the rounds, exploring all the options that are there. Opal follows me, pointing to the things she knows Dad likes. Back at the table, big surprise. Matt has some mac and cheese, and half a plate of FRIED OKRA. Considering that he doesn't like vegetables at all, and has never seen an okra pod in his life, much less the sliced and fried result, I am expecting that he'll soon head back for a different plate of stuff!

He eats it all, goes back for more. I like it! he grins. The three of us applaud. A real southern convert, born right before our eyes!

Back at the house, Granddaddy complains again about the DVD that is stick in Drive D of his computer. I'll fix it for you Granddaddy, the New Southerner volunteers, and takes the thing apart, gives the diagnosis. My Dad is amazed, how does one so young know all this stuff? Soon the computer is reassembled, plugged, and dusted clean, ready to use again. We'd better go, I say, have all your hugs goodbye.

Opal walks us to the car, we get her picture by the flowers she loves, she's made a garden refuge at the side of the house. We have another stop or two, before we head for Birmingham. My mother's grave, we've brought a flower for Matt to place on his great-grandmother's grave.

Then the other cemetery, where Matt places flowers on other great-grandparent graves, the paternal side, and great-great-grandparents too. Then a quick driveby of two old houses, overgrown and fading now, the spot where your Dad came to visit his grandparents when he was a little boy Matt, the spot where your Papa Don grew up.

That was then, I say. And this is now. Here you are in Alabama visiting your grandmother, some traditions never change. We head back to Birmingham, it's too late to go to Craig's to waterski. But we'll go to Vulcan, I promise. That's tradition too.
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