On my maternal side going to church was the cornerstone of everything social.
I am not sure if they really considered the spiritual side of things, because the women gossiped before, during, and after church 🙄.
The church seemed more of an opportunity to see and be seen, wearing your Sunday best of course.
My grandmother’s sisters, there were three of them, prided themselves on being from a family that had a certain je ne sais quoi.
The family was respectable so come church day they dressed to impress. I would be remiss if I neglected to say they were generous and a different cousin far removed seemed to always be living with them at some point or another.
They helped many people.
The spirit of community was alive and well.
Though the church was the place for meet and greet, the fun, the happenings, the grand finale would take place at great-grandma’s house.
It was the place where we ate and played with wild abandon. Love was a tangible force under the watchful smiling gazes of people who shared our bloodlines. A time when all is well with the world and no harm would dare befall thee.
Man, those were good times!
Our families grew up very intertwined and we roamed about each other's abode at will. My grandmother was the third girl in the bunch with two older sisters and one who was younger. Altogether there were thirteen children.
Together with their kids and extended family, it was a massive community born of hard work, unity, and love. When school was out the kids stayed wherever they wanted. Every door remained perennially open. My great-grandmother's house was the mecca of the activity and after church, the whole brood would congregate at her house.
Though they had a gas stove by the time I was a child, the mainstay was a fireside that hung from the top floor on the leeward side of the house. Strategically placed there to catch the winds needed to keep a fire going.
Great black clawfooted iron pots graced the enclosure of the kitchen housing the fireside. Bubbling in that giant crucible, was the special of the day — The Sunday Soup.
And many varieties of bread and sweets, made fresh the day before.
The main ingredient — love!
My great-grandfather was a cattle rancher and the family sold the meat of cows and fresh cows' milk among other things. In the backyard close to the back drain (trench) was the goat pen. During the rainy season, the alligators would tackle and kill whatever they could find and have been known to kill one or two goats along the way.
The cows were too much and so they were housed miles from the home. The meat for the Sunday soup was a little bit of the many parts often leftovers from the meat sale which ended each Saturday evening.
That Sunday soup fed all of us and anyone else who stopped by.
To this day, everyone remembers Ma Sarah’s Sunday soup, and we, her descendants, still speak about her soup whenever we remember the good times. My great-grandmother passed on when I was twelve years old. When I was fourteen years, I left the village behind, and the connection was broken.
The adults passed on as the years went by. Since that time, though I visit regularly, I have never gone back to the yard of my great-grandmother’s home, the place where I had so much fun.
Things have changed.
Time has taken love from us and time has given new loves to us, but Ma’s soup, the liquid glue that held us bound together has not bubbled in that large clawfoot since I was a girl of 12.
A version of this story was originally published @justpene50
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