You think you’ve lived; but until country ham, grits with red-eye gravy, a buttered biscuit with jelly, eggs any way you like ’em, and a large cup of hot coffee has passed through your lips and over your tongue, you are a mere impression of the whole and complete individual you aspire to be.
Country hams are cured, preserved, by rubbing a salt mixture onto the meat and hanging it up for some one to three months. The process turns the meat into a deeper red color. Red-eye gravy doesn’t refer to the color of the ham, but to the process of making the gravy out of the drippings in which the ham was cooked, and the addition of a cup of hot black coffee; pour the salty gravy over the grits and you have a taste sensation that makes you wanna, ‘”Slap yo’ Mama!”
My last country ham, red-eyed gravy over grits breakfast was at the Carolina Lunch restaurant that only serves breakfast … only in the South. This small town my parents and grandparents called home. Sadly, they are no longer with us, but I am there at least once a month cleaning the estate my sister, brother-in-law, and I are trying to sell. There are only a few places that I feel at home, this small Southern town is one of them. I know mostly the over eighty crowd; and those my age. Three in particular are friends of mine that helped me care for Mother and Daddy, and now for their home. One, an angel, a caregiver, that stayed with my one hundred one year old grandmother and then my mother until they both passed. She is only a year older than me, and we are fast friends. She is so funny. We go out for breakfast or lunch whenever I’m there. Another is only months younger than me; he is the gardener / handy man who keeps the grounds looking nice and trim; curb appeal is very important you know. Across the street is our watchdog friend-again my age. He has had brain tumors and is at home; he kept an eye on my parents as they aged, Mother when Daddy passed, and now the home when I’m not there; that’s not right … he keeps watch over me, too, when I’m there. Neighbors like that are rare!
I’m heading home tomorrow for several days; it’s a three hour trip. I have lots to do to make sure a house of almost five thousand square feet is spic and span. I’ll also check on the weeds, but it is so hot I may just leave those to fend for themselves. If they can survive in this heat and humidity, who am I to deny them life?
Dear Lord, I have been so blessed by You to have been born with Southern Grit: determination to see something through with loving care, elbow grease to get the job done, laughter to take the edge off hard work, sweet iced tea to cool a summer’s thirst, pound cake to make any hour of the day sweeter, country ham, red-eyed gravy over grits, biscuits with jelly, eggs any way you like ’em, and hot coffee, to start the day off right, good friends to have and to hold, and prayer to OUR Heavenly Father … the word OUR makes us all brothers and sisters. Amen
Click below for one of my favorite songs, I’m Going Home, by B.J. Thomas 1976.