on the front porch

A news story about cicada bugs, and childhood memories come rushing. They are so strong that I can smell Mema's White Shoulders perfume, feel the crinkle of her favorite housecoat (a robe would have been much too fancy for her). I've long since forgotten the granny square crochet pattern she taught me, but I still remember how accomplished I felt when I completed my first - and only - square. My summer visits with her and Papa meant simple Southern cooking, "coffee-milk", car rides to nowhere, and trips to the Tastee Freez for ice cream sundaes.

My favorite time of day came after dinner was finished and the dishes were washed and put away. Mema and I would walk next door and join Mrs. Ruth on her porch. Most often it was just the three of us, but sometimes another neighbor would saunter over from across the street. The cicada bugs provided the background melody to their voices graveled by years of smoke. Lightning bugs sparkled in the air as I listened to tales carved by decades of friendship, worn smooth by their frequent re-telling. I knew many by heart, but I loved to hear them anyway.

Mema and Mrs. Ruth had worked together, raised children together, and fished together alongside their husbands for longer than I could fathom. They knew each other inside and out. I imagine they had their misunderstandings and hurts, but somehow they always got back together on that porch.
 
(I don't know these ladies, but they would have been at home on Mrs. Ruth's porch)
Sitting beside Mema, our feet pushing the swing back and forth in comfortable rhythm, I was happy to be a part of this grown-up world. There were no theological debates, a few bawdy jokes, and lots of gossip. But those sweet, damp evenings were sacred to me. I learned the value of face-to-face conversation, side-by-side laughter, and deep abiding friendship. Eventually the laughter would quiet and the dark would completely overtake us. As Mema and I walked the well-trod path back home, I was already looking forward to the next evening.

I am the lone survivor of the women who gathered on Mrs. Ruth's porch. Those summer nights, long forgotten by the world, linger in my mind alone. As online interaction consumes personal contact, I wish I could have just a few more hours with those ladies, cackling together as dusk falls to the soft cicada hums.

Comments

  1. You. Should. Write. A. Book!!! SO beautiful....thank you, Melissa, for letting me *experience* those memories with you. XO

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