Sunday, November 26, 2017

Southern Comfort

I've always felt a little sorry for friends who grew up as an only child. Raised in a large family, I was rarely more than an arm's length from my nearest sibling. I also enjoyed a built-in gaggle of playmates through my dad's church. But what I didn't have, and envied in others, were close aunts and uncles. My mother had one sister who we saw on rare occasions. My dad's family lived in Missouri.

I remember the first time I met my Aunt Ruth, who came to visit when my mom was pregnant with my brother. She smiled a lot and spoke real slow in her honey-like southern accent. When she called me sweet pea, I thought I'd melt on the spot. Aunt Ruth was married to my Uncle Cecil,  a petite, white-haired man who played the harmonica and guitar at the same time. They were devoutly religious yet loving and playful. When Aunt Ruth hugged you, it was like her heart soaked up all your troubles and replaced them with giggles. My Midwestern people are known for being kind. But there's a deep-down warmth to Southern women that feels rooted in utter affection.

I'll admit to channeling a bit of my Aunt Ruth when I drew my protagonist's beloved Aunt Pearl. Young Grace's family is in turmoil when Rev. Carter's sister travels from Mississippi to lend a hand. From the moment Aunt Pearl steps off the bus in her flowered slippers, Grace finally feels as though she has a confidant, an adult who is on her side for once.

Aunt Pearl is round like Daddy but not much taller than me. She rocks back and forth when she walks, which makes her slippers lean to the outside. She takes the black rubbered stairs one at a time, saying, “Lordy, Lordy,” as if it’ll take a miracle to get to the bottom step. As soon as she hits the sidewalk she looks at me and grins, her front gold tooth sparkling like a little star. 

“Come here, shoog,” she says, and opens her arms. 

What about you? Did you have a favorite aunt or uncle, a mentor who stood up for you and who honored your individuality? Drop your answer in the comments or just to say hi. :)


My debut novel, THIS I KNOW, releases April 24, 2018. Follow me on Good Reads to be updated about future giveaways and blog posts. You can also pre-order my book on Amazon or from you local bookstore.

"A heartfelt and beautifully crafted debut about an eleven-year-old girl struggling to find her place in the world. THIS I KNOW shines, thanks to narrator Grace, one of the most authentic child characters I've come across in a long time. Don't miss this one."  Lesley Kagen, New York Times bestselling author of THE MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY.

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