I was born in Michigan, raised in Ohio. When I turned 13 our family moved to Kentucky. My mother and her family were born and raised there. I remember visiting my grandma as a child. When I talked about her to my friends I called her my rich grandma. She was 5 foot nothing with gray hair propped up, ever so, on her head. She gave me coins every time I would see her. She greeted me before I could get up her porch steps. As she stood with the screen door propped against her hip she gave me a big hug and called me Shelly Rae. She lived in a small trailer on a hill. Somehow, she had all the riches in the world in my mind.
I spent my teen years in Kentucky. I remember that I hated living in a small town. The angst of youth I suppose, pushed me back to the state of my birth. I've since realized that Kentucky is a magical place, where people hold to cultural traditions that people in most places have never heard.
We drove slowly, in a funeral procession, through the town, heads held high. A city police officer stopped traffic at the traffic light. We passed unimpeded. We proceeded to drive, watching as oncoming cars stop in their tracks. We drove up the steep hill heading out of town. Kentucky State Highway workers shut off their machines, face our procession, take off their hats, lower their head. As we meet their eye they nod.
That is but one example of tradition held in my maternal home place.
There is an unspoken bond among the people who come from such a place. It doesn't matter who has what, how far one has come in life, or where they've ended up. When we hear that "one of us" is hurting or happy we feel it. It's bred in us. Soaked into our soul.
So when I got this e-mail from a Non-Kentucky friend asking me if it meant anything to me or if it was hooey... I had to say, you'll never know the extent of it.
Funny yes, but to those who know, really know...It's gonna bring you right back to the place...
FRIENDS: Never ask for food.
KENTUCKY FRIENDS: Bring the food.
FRIENDS: Will say "hello".
KENTUCKY FRIENDS: Will give you a big hug and a kiss.
FRIENDS: Call your parents Mr. and Mrs.
KENTUCKY FRIENDS: Call your parents Mom and Dad
FRIENDS: Will wave to you as you drive by one another on the street.
KENTUCKY FRIENDS: Will stop their car in the middle of the street to
talk to you.
FRIENDS: Have never seen you cry.
KENTUCKY FRIENDS: Cry with you.
FRIENDS: Will eat at your dinner table and leave.
KENTUCKY FRIENDS: Will spend hours there, talking, laughing and just
being together, and then help clean up.
FRIENDS: Know a few things about you.
KENTUCKY FRIENDS: Could write a book with direct quotes from you...but
FRIENDS: Will leave you behind if that's what the crowd is doing.
KENTUCKY FRIENDS: Will kick the whole crowds' butts that left you and
never forget their faces.
FRIENDS: Would knock on your door.
KENTUCKY FRIENDS: Walk right in and say, "I'm home!"
FRIENDS: Will eventually forget you when you move away.
KENTUCKY FRIENDS: Remember and pick right back up where you left off
when you see each other again.
FRIENDS: Are for a while.
KENTUCKY FRIENDS: Are for life.
Yea, that's about right.