When you realize the only other Ginger in the room is your twelve-year-old cousin, and then you realize she got her hair from her daddy, whose bushy red eyebrows resemble the grey ones prominently displayed by your great uncle that you’ve come to bury…and you can’t walk past the open casket because he looks too much like your own grandfather, long gone but never forgotten…

Why are weddings and funerals the only time we connect with the familiar? The cousins we grew up with, who were our first best friends, and the people who look like us…The uncle who can recall shelling pecans on the porch and fishing off the levee…The aunt who has your great grandmother’s cream corn recipe…and everybody knows that the special ice cream from the Dairy Bar didn’t freeze as well in her ‘ice box,’ so it was soft and somehow tasted better…and, they call it an ‘ice box.’

Where are these people when we’re 40? Well, sometimes, they’re right around the corner, in your own grown up neighborhood, and if it weren’t for weddings and funerals you might never know. In the South (and yes, I capitalized it), this is when we get together. This is when we laugh and cry, and new babies are held by third cousins for the first time, and pictures with 15 great grandkids are taken. We eat, and we pray, and we celebrate life. The life that came before, the life that continues, and the life that comes next. We are connected.

This is the place where cars still pull over to the side of the road and stop when a funeral procession goes by. We fry chicken (we fry everything); we bless our food and your heart; we drink sweet tea; we respect our elders…and we love. A lot.

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