May 20, 2013 by kristin
Yesterday was Homecoming at my grandparents’ church. For those unfamiliar with this Southern tradition, it’s when you go back to the church where you were raised, or your parents were raised, or somebody was raised, and visit the graves of your loved ones buried in the churchyard, listen to gospel music, and eat lots of fried chicken.
There are a few givens at any successful Homecoming: It will be sweltering. You will get a grease spot on your new dress. You will run into cousins you didn’t know you had.
Other things you might not expect. You might notice Mamaw’s hand now shakes so much the green beans keep falling off her fork. You could offer to help her, but what’s she going to do, let you feed her there in front of God and everybody? So you sit there noticing out of the corner of your eye, but pretending like you don’t, because that’s what she wants you to do.
While attempting to entertain your child with quiet amusements during the service, you might point out the stained glass windows, and suddenly remember how when you were a little girl at this same church, you felt a glow of pride that your great-grandparents’ names were inscribed on the window just behind Mamaw and Papaw’s pew.
You might visit the babies in the graveyard, the one who would be your aunt, the one who would be your cousin, and think about your own baby, six months old today, she of the chunky thighs and fuzzy hair, the hands that grasp your face and pull you in for a sloppy kiss. You might wonder why you are so blessed, or lucky, to have beautiful children, a beautiful husband, a beautiful life, when others have to wait so long for their dreams to come true.
You came here for Mamaw, and for Papaw, because Homecoming always mattered so much to him, and you miss him, and being here is one thing you can give him.
What you didn’t expect – Homecoming was a gift to you, too.
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