I always look forward to hearing from you and it has been proven again that I receive more responses after I have written about my dogs. Actually, more than ever after last month’s column when I wrote about Abbey. Thank you for all the emails ~ through the paper and my personal account, cards and calls. I heard from friends, complete strangers and others from whom I had not been in contact since moving from Kingsport. You were so kind and will never know how much your reaching out to me has helped in this healing process. And, even those who waited to reach out weeks later, you probably helped more. All of you felt the nudge to touch base even if you were not pet owners and I thank you ~ thank you!! Your heartfelt stories and well-wishes have been incredibly soothing!
And now, with summer skirting behind us and classes back in session, I found it harder to leave Daddy’s farm but doing so helps me spread my wings. One of the main reasons I find it difficult is leaving behind the best fresh homemade peach ice cream in the world from Dickie’s Farms. Alas, I also broke my adult record and did not wear makeup for over two weeks. I no longer have the natural good looks I did in my youth, but it sure was freeing! Of course, the scenery offers creative inspiration and especially so when viewing creatures up close across the lake with my new binoculars. I enjoyed hummingbirds dining on homemade nectar three feet from me when I was on the deck. Their fluttering sound alerted each arrival. But the competition was intense between the bees, wasps and small creatures for which I made the feeder. Something that I will also miss are the three bunnies that had nested halfway between the main road and Elk Lodge; I saw them scurrying around almost daily when making the drive in and out. And the deer and foxes ... always a treat!
I am spoiled throughout the school year with chefs catering to every whim of my taste buds. However, I will miss cooking for my parents... the process of choosing, planning, shopping and preparing a meal. Which reminds me of the last one ... I was shopping in Ingles on a Sunday afternoon when the only item that I had not checked off my list was white wine for one of the recipes. I noticed a lovely elderly lady glancing over the cheeses as I headed to the front corner of the store to select the libation for that evening’s dinner. Frankly, I do not know much about white wine except that Chablis was something I tried in college and it was “rock-gut.” So, Chablis was right out! I am studying the selection when I hear, “Unt-ugh.” And, then again, “Unt-ugh.” Without giving her the satisfaction of looking in her direction, I pretended not to hear that lady whom I had just passed. But she did not let up. Again, “Unt-ugh.” That only made me more determined. As I picked up a bottle and placed it in my cart, I heard the “Unt-ugh,” a little louder. There was absolutely no way I could make it to the cash register without scooting around to her direction. I held my head high and shoulders back to face her but she had disappeared. Instead, stood my father who started giggling. We turned the corner and literally raced to the cash register squealing the whole way. Silly I know ... my 85-year-old father and me acting like children in a grocery store. But really, I am VERY thankful that we can do that. He is still alive, in good health, can drive, buy his own groceries, cook and can run or quickly push a grocery cart at an excellerated speed with a child’s delight!
Back in Athens, a sensational Recruitment (I tend to still call it Rush) is behind us with a big new class of amazing young women. I believe that it is getting easier with each passing year as I start my third as house director for Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) and find pure joy in my role with each group. Football season is upon us with our first game having been played yesterday (by the time you read this). Tailgaters will descend upon our beautiful campus for each home game with various gear of red and black. The same around Neyland stadium though orange and white. I love SEC football and am looking forward to another great season!
Lastly, a bit of advice regarding car breakdowns ... PRAY! I recently attended a couple’s shower on Lake Lanier for dear friends of mine whose daughter is getting married in November. Following my hostesses to their home after the luau-themed party, I literally had a tire blow out. Not sure what caused it since my car had just been serviced and tires checked! Of course, it was dark and two big men pulled up and asked if I needed help - like realty TV. “Thank you, but I will call AAA.” They left. My hostesses had meanwhile noticed that my headlights were no longer in their rearview mirror and turned around. And, so did the two big guys. I noticed immediately that one was drunker than Cooter Brown. “Hey, we can fix that in no time. You don’t need to call AAA,” the 6-foot-6-inch Cooter yelled with slurred exaggeration. I prayed more! Cooter kept talking while his Uber driver did most of the work. Within 20 minutes, the wheel had been taken off and replaced with the spare. Behold the picture. Can you believe it? Regardless, Uber let me know that he actually drove for Lyft ~ while Cooter was trying to learn if I would buy him a drink if I ever saw him out and about. Geez-Louise! One, Cooter was going to be waiting a long time if he ever thought he’d see me again and especially at some bar. Two, I was just happy that Cooter called “Uber” to drive him home and that, three, God took care of me.
Growing up, my family had outdoor dogs (Schatzi, a Dachshund; Bill, an Airedale; and a variety of mutts, including Mudpuppy, named so because she was found in a mud puddle). However, as an adult, my dogs have been the indoor variety sharing the pack with their human servants. I realize that this will be my first holiday without a dog in 33 years but know that my five Scottish Terriers and one chocolate lab mix will be with me in spirit enjoying Daddy’s farm this Labor Day. Enjoy yours with family, friends and pets!
Susan E. Kendrick is a Sunday Stories columnist who shares her insights and Southern humor each month in Sincerely, Susan. To correspond with Susan, email her at [email protected] To share your events for our Out & About calendar, email us at [email protected]