There is nothing so wonderful as being a part of the senior retreat sponsored by Beaufort County Parks and Leisure Services. This year's trip took us to Springmaid Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach.
Roommate Lillie DeVeaux and I picked an afternoon to walk the pier. Here we had a chance to see the fishermen with their gear, buckets and baits. DeVeaux and I never have a schedule for returning to our room; this walk is like a ritual to us and we stroll along, just enjoying seeing the moods of those who are there.
As dinnertime approached, we headed back only to be stopped when someone asked me, "Are you Anna Mable's sister?" Only a person from Columbia would ask me that and only one who grew up in our neighborhood, as my sister has made it clear that calling her "Anna" is enough at her age.
I would not have recognized Gloria Whatley if she had not spoken to me. But at the instant she spoke I called her by name and what a conversation began.
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When we were young, Whatley was in and out of my parents' home. Mama took her and many others under her wing. Whatley began to share about her moments with Miss Anna Bell, as the young folks of the church called my mother. Many times they would follow Mama home from church, and although Mama did not know just when they might come, there was always food for them. They would stay and talk, getting advice on how to be fine young ladies.
Whatley and I talked about the time in June 1972 when Mama traveled with me and my four children to Boulder, Colo., by Greyhound bus. Chad was a year old, and Mama had agreed to be my baby sitter as I studied at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
When we stopped in St. Louis, I was down to the last eight ounces of milk for Chad. I dreaded having to purchase milk from the restaurant at the bus station, but this seemed to be my only choice. As if touched by an angel, in walked this lady who said, "Hello, Mrs. Wilson." Mama looked around, and I asked "Who knows you here?" Not answering me, she said, "Is that Gloria?" "Yes, ma'am," came the response. Whatley invited us to come visit with her, but I suggested that she and Mama spend this time together.
Here on the pier -- 37 years later -- Whatley and I caught up on the happenings of our families, much like the fishermen were enjoying the tales of their hobby. Whatley asked, "Can you cook like Mrs. Wilson?" I told her some things I can prepare like Mama and some I cannot. I assured her the trait of preparing good food seasoned with love had been passed down to me. I shared with her the love I have of giving from my kitchen, just like Mama.
From the love of Mama, I share some of her favorite recipes with you.