He will yet fill your mouth with laughterand your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21 (NIV)
I grew up on Southern Living magazine. When I got married and had a home of my own, I read my mother in law’s hand me downs until the kids were born and I had no time to read anything but Good Night Moon and Pat the Bunny. Those days are gone, and with a gift subscription from my mom, I am back to reading Southern Living, experimenting with new recipes, contemplating (only contemplating) the purchase of $125 pillows, planning parties in my head that I will never host and dreaming of visiting cities and restaurants with exotic sounding names. But, my favorite part of the current issues of Southern Living is at the very end of the magazine, the articles by Rick Bragg called Southern Journal. I have read all of Rick Bragg’s books and for the most part found them dark and a little scary. But, his writings in Southern Living are full of humor, great stories, southern traditions and intriguing characters. When I am done, I feel like I have just settled down in a rocking chair on the front porch of some ancestor’s home. That’s why when I reach into my post office box and pull out a new issue of Southern Living, I sit in my car in front of the Post Office and turn to the last page first. Before I start the car, I have read and absorbed Bragg’s writing, and I drive the few blocks home with his voice in my ear. This month’s story is called “My Empty Nest” and is about his son’s departure for college. He tells about how much the family dog, “Woody Bo,” misses the boy and runs to the front door whenever he hears a horn blow, the sound of the boy locking his car with the remote control. As poignant as Bragg’s article is and as much as I could relate, I would love to tell him not to mourn too long because before he knows it the boy will come back home and bring more humans or dogs with him. Poor Woody Bo will be upstaged by a new puppy or a new girl and he will forever be longing for the beep beep of a horn alerting to the car’s locked door. I can’t cast too much blame. Early in our marriage, when husband and I unexpectedly got an offer on our house before we had even started building a new one, we moved in with my mom and dad and brought two Dobermans. We lived with them for a year while my mom’s housekeeper quit because of the dogs and my mom, always modest, had to ask me to ask husband not to walk into the kitchen in his underwear. The floating in and out of adult children and their dogs is payback of sorts. I suppose one day I will be mooning over grandchildren. But, I won’t be able to put them in a crate when I go to the grocery store.