Just among friends
Wednesday, November 27, 2013 12:00 AM
I was looking for us a good Thanksgiving story and I found it at the suggestion of Mike Pace, a real story about real people.
I drove not "over the river and through the woods," but stopping at a house about five miles down the Old Indian Hospital Road, I asked two little girls, "Is this where Mike and Deaneen Savell live?"
Going inside to check this stranger out with their grandparents, six-year-old Hadley and four-year-old Madelynn, daughters of Patrick Savell, came back out of the house with Pa Mike and Ma Neen, and there this story about a happy, thankful family begins.
Mike began our outdoor tour, with a crape myrtle stick in hand, by pointing to the "shed," as they call it.
"This is where it all happens," he told me, pointing to a deer feeder Andrew had built.
The firewood is stacked there, and there's a cleaning and skinning rack for the deer their hunts will bring.
Wooden hen nests are on the ground.
There is a high-rise chicken house which Mike built with an old-time wooden latch and wooden shutters to be opened or closed as the weather dictates.
An abundance of Irish potatoes are stored in wooden crates everywhere, to be heavily covered in hay when the weather drops to below 30.
Andrew was a fifth grader when the family home burned to the ground in 2004.
The shed was left standing and Andrew got off the school bus every afternoon after school and played in the shed until Mike and Deaneen rebuilt on the same site months later.
The shed is located at the foot of a slight decline not far from the house.
It is partially floored by the roots of a big oak tree which lends its shade and protection to the chickens in their pens.
This family's lives are much like that shed.
The roots of their faith draw strength and safety as they abide under the shelter of the wings of the Most High.
The dining table is where the family comes together at the end of each day.
"We pray. We eat together, and by the end of the meal, we pretty much know what's going on in each other's lives," Mike told me.
When Mike and Deaneen married in 1983, they moved to Texas.
In a ploy to get his only granddaughter back home, Jim Whittle offered Mike a deal.
"Come back and we'll work out something at City Jewelry," and thus the third generation of a business established by Jim and Waudean Whittle and passed on to Jimmy and Martha Whittle, gained firm footing.
Jade Savell, of the fourth generation and an eleventh-grader at Neshoba Central, comes by the store in the afternoons after school.
Walking over Mike's gardens is not tiring nor boring.
There are short rows or beds of winter vegetables, such as cabbage, turnip greens, mustard, kale, and collards.
Garlic grows at the base of the clothes line, and everywhere green onions may be found.
There are fruit trees and bushes of every kind.
Mike can tell you a story about who gave each one of them to him.
He makes a lot of acquisitions from his customers in his dual role as friendly jeweler/friend.
Madelynn with the red hair and "brown blonde" Hadley took me to the "grape garden" where we ate late-lingering muscadines from the arbor.
Mike loves the story about pulling an apple from the tree, wiping it off, and giving it to seven-year-old Abigail Graham to eat.
She went home and told her grandmother, Marie Graham, "Mr. Mike has apples that you don't even have to wash!"
"I eat out of the yard all the time," Mike told me. Grazing is a good word for it.
There have to be larger gardens or patches in the summer of peas, butterbeans, green beans, lady peas, peppers, squash, corn, both sweet and Irish potatoes to fill the pantries and cupboards as I saw them once in the house, not to mention all the jams and jellies.
Not to be confused with this "fast food" world in which we live, with Deaneen it is a matter of "instant meals."
She pressure cans, in jars, all the food their labor produces.
When preparing a meal, she opens a jar, and like magic, dinner is ready!
Screen doors opening onto the porches, create a cool draft throughout the house.
The kitchen bar is the popular place to be when Deaneen is cooking.
The kitchen is a friendly place, everyone is welcome, and there is always plenty of sweet tea.
I'd guess there will be chicken and dressing on the table tomorrow.
This is the story of broken hearts, turned thankful.
Toni and Don Stovall lost their only child, sixteen-year-Jacob Stovall in 2009.
Jacob, who was battling neuroblastoma (cancer), spent a lot of time during his last days and years at Batson's Children Hospital in Jackson.
During these years, Jacob's family became very close to the staff at the hospital, and wanted to do something to benefit other patients.
Four years ago they began an annual Steak Plate and Bake Sale to raise money for this cause.
Last Wednesday, Toni and her mother, Carol Kilpatrick, attended a luncheon in their honor at the Children's Cancer Center.
They presented the hospital with a check in the amount of $9,500, bringing a total donation of $40,000 made to the hospital in memory of Jacob as a result of these benefits over the past four years!
In amazement, the hospital replied, "We are so grateful to be supported by families and communities like yours. Thank you."
Toni has a long list of "thank yous" to everyone who has made these benefits such a success.
"I want everyone to know that it couldn't have been possible without all of you who had any part in it."
She expressed appreciation to Kilpatrick Logging, Vowell's Market Place, Henry Butler Distributing, Sara Lee Bakery - Kyle and Mark Peebles, Thomas Gamblin, FireHouse Barbecue - Tony Sharp, Brown Bottling Group, The Citizens Bank, for allowing us to have the bake sale in their lobby, and Beacon Street Baptist Church, for allowing us to use their parking lot for the steak sale.
Toni's thanks are extended to everyone who had any part in the bake sale, to the Beta Clubs at PHS and NCHS for selling steak plate tickets, and to everyone who bought tickets and T-shirts.
"This just shows what a great city we live in. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Please let us be thankful for what God has given us, especially our children. I thank the Lord every day for the sixteen years we were blessed to have Jacob. I sincerely hope that each and everyone of you have a blessed and thankful Thanksgiving."
And all God's children, said Amen.
With hearts of deep gratitude John and Leslie King presented their son, Keller Josef King, for Infant Christian Baptism at the morning worship service, Nov. 17, 2013, at The First United Methodist Church, Philadelphia with the Rev. Fred Britton officiating.
Cameron Eve King, Keller Josef's 2-1/2-year-old sister, attended the Baptism Celebration.
Both children were baptized in a baptismal gown worn first by their maternal grandfather, Edwin Martinez, who was in attendance, along with grandmothers Susan Martinez and Shelley King.
Maternal great grandparents are the late William and Evelyn Nelson and paternal great grandparents, the late Roger Maynard and Inez Kea King.
As the pastor introduced the soundly sleeping Keller Josef to his church family, he pointed to where his grandfather, the late Joe King, had sung bass with the chancel choir.
Other special guests for the service were Susanna, Hayes, Simmons and Fletcher Brooks, Donna Blanc, Rachel and Lenin Trueting, and DeeAnne Majure.
In the spirit of true Thanksgiving, the Neshoba County United Methodist Churches held a Mission Songfest at the First United Methodist Church Sunday evening, Nov. 17.
The Rev. Fred Britton welcomed guests from Cook's Chapel - Mars Hill, Coy - Stallo, Northbend, Henry's Chapel, Hopewell, Mount Zion, Prairie Chapel, Stevens Chapel, Sandtown, Southside - Hope.
We all have our reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving Season. Babs Kirkland shares her special blessing.
"On Oct. 26, my daughters, Amy Johnston, Jill Daniel and Sally Clark, surprised me with a birthday party celebrating my 75th birthday. We were all in Jackson to see my grandson, Mason Daniel, from Tupelo play soccer. Following the morning game, we all went to Sally and Jeff's in Madison for lunch. After lunch, Amy and Sally said they had some shopping to do, but for Jill and Shelby and me to go on back for the afternoon soccer game.
"Arriving back at Sally and Jeff's after the game and seeing all the cars, I thought that Emma and Kip had friends over. Opening the door, I was greeted with a big 'Happy Birthday!' The house was filled with people and the dining table was full of food! There were pictures all over the house that had been blown up of me and my family in younger days. It was a complete and wonderful surprise!"
Making the day wonderful for Babs were Nancy and Allen Hardy, Andy and Penny Hardy, Nicholas Hardy, Georgia Hardy, Ben and Hanna Hardy, Ginger and Kelly Paul Clark, Todd and Molly Clark, Mary Logan Clark, Rosie Clark, Kip Clark, Emma Clark, Mitch Self, Jill and Shelby Daniel, Mason Daniel, Sam Daniel, Amy Johnston, and Sally and Jeff Clark.
Babs' grandson, Clay Johnston, was unable to attend the surprise party, but he had celebrated with his mother and grandmother the weekend before when they visited him in Oxford.
And now the real Babs comes out: "Although, I did tell all of them, far in advance, that I was expecting a big blow-out for my 75th birthday, I really didn't think they would do it. It was a wonderful day, and I loved having all my family together!"
Happy Birthday, Babs, and Happy Thanksgiving to All!