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Destination: baptism. Diversion: famous Nashville eatery

J. H. Osborne • May 28, 2017 at 11:00 AM

NASHVILLE — My great-niece, Olivia Carr, gave her “Gigi” (her great-grandmother, AKA my mother) the best Mother’s Day ever two weeks ago. That’s the day Olivia, 10, was baptized after accepting Christ into her heart at the First Baptist Church of Hendersonville.

Olivia’s baptism, at the large church’s 8:30 a.m. service, was mother’s and my destination for Mother’s Day as soon as we heard about it. It brought together four female generations that morning: Olivia; her mother, Allison; her Grammy (Allison’s mother and my sister) Pamela Fagans; and “Gigi” (my mother, Wanda Wallen Osborne). With Nashville suburb Hendersonville a five-hour drive from our home in Kingsport, Mom and I knew we’d have to get there Saturday and spend the night to assure we made it to the church on time.

And that left me plotting a diversion for Saturday evening. I settled on dinner at the Loveless Cafe, which I would have sworn I’d taken my parents to on years-ago trips to Nashville — but hadn’t. If you’re not familiar with the Loveless, it’s on the opposite side of Nashville from Hendersonville. In fact, it was about 35 miles from our hotel next door to the church in Hendersonville. I didn’t explain that to Mother and just drove straight there when we got to Nashville.

Pamela and her husband, Larry, weren’t making the drive from their Knoxville home until bright and early Sunday. Allison and her longtime beaux, Tom Langley, were driving at the same time as mother and I — making the 400-plus-mile trek from  Augusta, Ga. Allison and Olivia’s father divorced several yeas ago, but remain friendly to the point that Saturday evening Allison and Tom were to join Olivia, her sister Abbie, and their father, Jeff, for a birthday celebration among Jeff’s family at The Melting Pot. I love The Melting Pot. But I was sure mother would prefer the traditional Southern fare of the Loveless.

We arrived at the Loveless (8400 Highway 100, Nashville) just after 6 p.m. It being Saturday night, I was prepared for a long wait. They don’t take reservations on the weekends but do so the rest of the week only for groups of nine to 32, and with at least 24 hours notice. We were both hungry, it actually being 7 p.m. for our stomachs. We were disheartened to see numerous people waiting outside. But we were in luck being a party of two. The hostess said it would be 15 minutes. But it was more like five when our buzzer went off. We were led through the large, crowded dining room on the right and seated at a two-top along a back wall. It was an excellent vantage point for people watching, plus we got to stare at everyone else’s food as we passed all the other tables.

The Loveless menu is not lacking for choices. The restaurant serves breakfast all day. As soon as you’re seated, a plate of hot biscuits and a selection of homemade jams are placed before you. I planned to order breakfast and thought mother would too. Neither of us did. I opted for pit-smoked turkey breast with cranberry barbecue sauce and hoecakes, caramel sweet potatoes and fried okra. Not satisfied with just biscuits and jam, I indulged in a fried green tomato and pimento cheese biscuit as well. Mother, having spied the dessert case on the way in and thoroughly entertained with an endless plate of fresh biscuits and jam, decided to go “light” with her entree choice and opted for a three-pick vegetable plate. Everything was delicious. We were stuffed and got two desserts to go: coconut cream pie (which our wonderful waitress, Barbara, cited as her favorite) and “Steeplechase” pie (a version of “Derby” pie — basically pecan pie with chocolate chips and a hint of bourbon).

The next morning was hectic but we all made it to the church on time.

FBCH Minister of Children Mark Hayman spoke of Olivia’s path to Christ — she was led largely by her friend Selah Smith — from the church’s baptistry high above the altar. Mother and I, along with Larry and Tom, were second row center in the massive sanctuary. We need not have worried about seating in regard to having a good view. Large television screens showed Hayman and Olivia in closeup mode. Olivia’s mother and grandmother were with her “backstage” but off camera. All three joined us in our pews for the remainder of the service.

 

Afterward, we all got to spend a few minutes chatting with FBCH Lead Pastor Dr. Bruce Chesser. We left feeling blessed that Olivia has found a wonderful church home (and, obviously, true “fishers of men” in Selah and her family).

The three mothers in the group deferred to Olivia on how to spend the day. She chose visiting two nearby parks and lunch at a Japanese teppanyaki place.

Our carryout pie slices from the Loveless lasted almost until Knoxville on our way home Sunday. Mother’s leftover Loveless biscuits and jam lasted her, as one-by-one morning treats, for a few days. The Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, we’ll eat again at the Loveless.

The joy of being with Olivia at her baptism, and the memories of a Mother’s Day together, will last us all our lives.

J.H. Osborne covers Sullivan County government for the Times-News.

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