My MIL is, truly, a Southern woman -- gracious, beautiful, and strong. Even at 75 she has maintained her feminine shape, dares a hair to turn gray on her naturally brunette head, drives all over the country, maintains a beautiful yard, volunteers profusely, has a full social calendar, and still has enough time to make me and my children feel extra special when we invite ourselves to her house. She even has a drawl that would make Scarlett O'Hara jealous. I am amazed - constantly. O.K. I feel a bit inept, too.
I wonder if they taught all of that at Mississippi State College for Women (now Mississippi University for Women) or if she was born that way or if her Mother taught her. The children and I were running late because the air conditioner was not working in the van and decided, after 15 miles, to return home and change vehicles. She called by the time we got to Greenwood to find out if we were stranded somewhere. When we arrived she greeted us at the car and we visited on the back patio and I got her to show me her flowers. She knew every species (She is a Mississippi Master Gardener) and exactly when it would bloom. We went inside and dinner was prepared with seemingly no effort. It was just whisked onto the table (obviously prepared before hand and warming on the oven, but we never saw the effort).
After dinner my MIL had chosen a movie especially for the children and sat down to watch it with them while leaving the most recent copies of magazines I enjoy, but don't subscribe in our room. She also retrieved a new book she thought I might enjoy. After the movie, the children and I slipped off to a perfectly made bed. The starched sheets are cool and smooth. The blankets are encased in the sheets so there is no scratchy wool touching you and the whole experience is finished off with a comforter to create the perfect weight and starched linen pillow cases on an abundance of pillows.
In the morning we had a full breakfast with sausage, biscuits, cinnamon rolls and slushy orange juice. Again, produced with no visible effort. She had also read the newspaper and found an article about sleep deprivation because I had mentioned something about another article the night before. All the special touches like gardenias and magnolia blooms in vases, the magazines specially for me, the movie for the children, the starched sheets, the article clipped from the paper, the guilt free supper, and the slushy orange juice make a person feel welcome.
When I first married my husband, I took these things for granted. We only visited at Christmas because we lived so far away. I suppose I felt we were special visitors. Now, I know that anyone who shows up gets the same treatment. She is a true Southern woman who would have it no other way.
I am going to practice so I can continue the tradition. Where is that starch?