Precious Memories

On this Easter Sunday, I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus, God, family and friends, and, as always, my wonderful experiences in Texas. This morning, we enjoyed coffee on the back patio and listened to the children in the backyard adjacent to our home, playing on their swing set and trampoline after what sounded like the end of a joyous search for Easter eggs.

I looked on Facebook and loved seeing the photos of children and grandchildren wearing their Sunday finest and reading about the various menu items awaiting hungry families after the church service was over.

Today’s blog doesn’t focus so much on travel in Texas but rather two precious people I was so blessed to know and to have as grandparents, James Eliott Stone and Barney Althea Thompson Stone, better known to me as PaPa and Grandma.

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I suppose you could consider them two different examples of God-loving people. Both were born in Texas to parents and grandparents from the Lone Star State.

PaPa had a wonderful sense of humor and had a gift for storytelling. One never knew if the tale he was sharing was fact or fiction, but it never really mattered. His ability to present the story was his gift. A humble man, PaPa never lacked for anything and he never flaunted what he had. I never saw him attend church but I always believed he was closer to God than most people I knew who were in the doors every time they opened. He lived to be 94 years old and prayed every night. He called all of his grandchildren by Miss or Mister in front of our names, making us feel extremely grownup and important.

Grandma varied from PaPa for she visited church often. My siblings and I loved to sing and we learned to harmonize from her. I’ve met many people who have read the Bible cover to cover. Grandma didn’t just read it, she studied it. I am fortunate to have one of many bibles she used to read. In this particular Bible, she wrote ’23 – trip thru the Bible 1983,’ and she wrote it 13 additional times until the year she died ’36 – trip thru the Bible 1997.’ She wrote various things throughout including dates of rare snowfalls in east Texas, recipe notes, the fact that their crop of peas was still producing in November despite a horrible drought and, one of the last things written in this, her final Bible, ‘Life lends us feet, but death gives us wings.’ I have no doubt that if God needed reminding of what’s written in his word, Grandma could quickly give him book, chapter and verse without blinking an eye.

I am proud of my family and my Texas roots. On this Easter Sunday, I’m extremely proud to have known two fine examples of God’s creation, living their best lives on this Earth and passing those blessings to our family.

Eat in the Heart of Texas!

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Part of my reason for writing this blog and including a food section is due to my background and my family. My favorite memories growing up go back to visiting my grandparents on holidays and being surrounded by amazing food, prepared by my grandma’s loving hands, and then sitting wherever we could find a space in order to hear my PaPa tell stories. Some we had heard numerous times but he had a way of enhancing them that made them sound new to us.

We never lacked for something to eat and the menu was plentiful – purple-hull peas, cornbread, chicken & dumplings, sweet potatoes, turnip greens, fried okra, squash, fried chicken, and almost always a saucer full of freshly-cut tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, especially when PaPa’s garden had come in. Of course, desserts seemed more present than main courses and included chocolate meringue and pink lemonade pies, a variety of cakes and homemade candies like divinity, fudge and peanut brittle. If you were really lucky, you arrived on a day Grandma made fried pies.

So while my blog has been featuring restaurant choices across the state of Texas, today I featured something from my own kitchen – Coca Cola, mustard and brown sugar baked ham, fresh green beans with bacon, deviled eggs, and freshly sliced tomatoes with a big glass of sweet tea. It wasn’t a fancy meal but it reminded me of those wonderful holidays with my Grandparents.

As we ate in our dining room, we were surrounded by things that once belonged to my grandparents like PaPa’s old trunk providing a safe haven for my Grandma’s last Bible, my great-grandmother’s 48-state quilt sewn before Alaska and Hawaii joined, and the old hoe handle my Grandpa used as a walking stick when he would venture out into his east Texas land, the top of the handle smaller from where he gripped it for so many years. I am grateful this day for family, for memories and for the love of God. Happy Easter!

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