Ruth’s Drive-In has been a treasured mmmm-eating place since the early forties. I have only learned of it since my parents both passed and I am the daughter caring for the home place on hands and knees bowed not in reverence, but after dust bunnies and musty smells of unknown origin. Ruth’s is now my breakfast Choice of Champions!
Here is where I run into my second cousin Jimmy, who holds court weekdays at the back table. I’ve introduced myself to his cronies as the cousin from the pretty side of the family. I get them started and Jimmy turns red; I am instantly dubbed an insider with information they’d love to hear!
Walter, one of the morticians in town, as well as an old friend of Mother’s from her college days, greets me the day I had my pork chop lunch special at RDI’s. I do want one of those T-shirts they sell with large RDI letters printed in the center. He was a scamp back then, black-balled from the all-girl campus to protect the innocent Hartsville flowers. Now, he’s just a sweet old man who tears up when he looks at me and swears he’s looking at my mother.
Cindy, my new best friend, waits on me every time I’m there. “Hi, hun! Whutchew wont?” I am at home; her low country banter lulls me back to conversations of old; my young ears heard and learned how to love-speak.
This morning my eyes beheld pancakes almost too big for the plate, with bacon crisp, just like I like it. Syrup soon dripped off the sides and I was lost in sin. Not too far gone to nod at the gentleman in the center booth, reading his paper. Knowing we’ve seen each other before, we acknowledge our aloneness; silently communicating our love of this place that welcomes chatter from table to table.
In the background of coffee poured, conversation murmured, chairs scraped, and utensils dropped, we all hear the banter of a family in the back booth. It is light and unobtrusive. No loud cries of protest or tears of upset there. Just a quiet little family I barely noticed until Daddy picked up Cupcake. She must have been heading for three years old-if that. Dressed in footie pajamas with, you guessed it, cupcakes floating in a light lilac background. Her baby fine light brown hair came to her shoulders. She waved and greeted everyone in the room. “Hey, Cupcakes,” were softly spoken in her direction and she honored them with a wave. I was captivated by this small cupcake! Daddy paid the bill and they made their way to the door accompanied by Mommie and brother. I tentatively held my hand up to wave goodbye. She spied me out of the corner of her eye. As they went through the door, I got my wave. Behind Daddy’s back, Cupcake did a back-handed wave to me-no eye contact-but I did rate a wave. That wave carried me through the day. Thank you, Sweet Cupcake!
Couldn’t Heaven be a lot like Ruth’s Drive-In? Love freely given and taken; all welcomed; greetings in tongues familiar from our beginning of time; cherubs waving us into the family of Man. I can only imagine; I can only hope; I hope the coffee’s hot and the pancakes bacon covered-syrup drenched!
Thank You, Dear Lord for the small towns and small people who remind me what is truly important; we are all welcome; if we don’t know someone, wait a minute or two and you’ll hear their whole life story; and wisdom comes from the mouths and waves of God’s littlest children! Amen
I immediately thought of this hymn I’ve known since I was a child. Cupcake, you are a precious creation great and small!
All Things Bright and Beautiful
Author: Cecil Frances Alexander 1848
All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful,
the Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
each little bird that sings,
God made their glowing colors,
God made their tiny wings. Refrain
The purple-headed mountain,
the river running by,
the sunset, and the morning
that brightens up the sky: Refrain
The cold wind in the winter,
the pleasant summer sun,
the ripe fruits in the garden,
God made them every one. Refrain
God gave us eyes to see them,
and lips that we might tell
how great is God Almighty,
who has made all things well. Refrain