Many of my fondest childhood memories involve my grandmother, Mary Louise Parker. She was petite Southern woman – born and raised in a little town in South Carolina. A lady in all respects and made baking and cooking look effortless. I still remember the aroma coming from her tiny kitchen and how she “made do” with a large mixing bowl and a wooden spoon. The smells…a mixture of cinnamon, coffee and a summer breeze blowing through her kitchen sink window makes me want to travel back in time. She was Southern in every way except she no longer lived in the South. She fell in love with my grandfather, a Midwesterner, who was what her Daddy called, a “Yankee.” She left her family farm, her mother and father and all nine of her siblings to marry my grandfather and start a family in the Midwest. She went “back home” every summer and many times I went with her – a trip I looked forward to all year long.
The older I become the more I realize the courage it took for her to leave home as a young woman. I often think that her cooking and baking must have reminded her of “back home.” Her cookie jar lives in my kitchen now. My mother gave it to me when I had my first daughter. It’s one of the things that means the most to me in my home. It reminds me of her and I wonder if she knew as she was placing warm homemade chocolate chip cookies in it, if someday, her great-granddaughters would be baking from her recipes and placing cookies in her very jar.
My mom and I talk often about the courage she showed to start a new life based on love. Like her, we both have had to dig deep many times in my own lives to find a new path like many of us do. Like others, I have experienced the loss of loved ones, been devastated by the serious illness of a child, had crushing disappointments with work and with personal relationships. Each time I have had to find my way “back home” and start new. It is apart of life – the courage to honor the past, live the present and push forward and find the courage to embrace the future.
The Journey is about just that…the journey along the way that defines us and brings us full circle. In sorts, it is a roadmap for my own three girls to serve as a reminder that courage and hope live within us. That love and forgiveness shape us and our lives and that “back home” can be as simple as standing in your kitchen and baking from your great-grandmothers recipe.
I invite you to experience a little bit of the South this summer by slowing down just a bit and sipping on a sweet tea, feeling the summer breeze and meeting Savanah and her family in The Journey.