A Happy Birthday with My Country Friends

Happy Birthday
A slice of my Batesville, AR friends group, Georgette, Lori, and Felley (in the feathery birthday hat) drove the nine hours from Little Rock to Indy so we could celebrate Felley’s birthday. When you’ve known someone for well over 30 years (true with all three of them), there aren’t many surprises left, but even I was kind of shocked that I could get them to drive up just for the weekend.

Not only did they drive up, but Lori brought Friday night dinner with her! A fabulous tomato basil soup, mixed greens for a salad, roasted pepper brushcetta, and chicken salad. And she taught me to make salad bowls out of shredded and melted parmesan cheese. AND she brought a homemade feather birthday hat that would have made Phyllis Diller jealous. All I had to do was make Felley’s birthday dessert (key lime pie).

The weather cooperated so we ate at the table on the front porch and then did what we always do, tried to piece together our memories which become fuzzier with age, though no less entertaining (at least not to us). We spent a lot of time reliving youth mission trips to Indiana recalling how we had to go door to door asking people, “If you were to die today, do you know for certain that you would spend eternity in Heaven?” Needless to say the Muncie and Terre Haute crowds weren’t always thrilled at being hounded about their eternal souls by a bunch of hillbillies. It’s kind of hard to make cold calls about heaven. Most people were actually nice, but we did recall a few Bibles being hurled at us. None of us could figure out why our elders chose to send us to Indiana anyway, which is just another hole in the Bible belt.

Country Friends

Saturday we grabbed Dave and took a trip to Country Friends, one of my favorite stores here, even though I am embarrassed by the name, which I feel certain is a holdover from the gingham-goose-riddled early 1980s. We spent a lot of time there. I ended up getting talked into buying this enormous chicken for our garden. I probably would have bought it anyway, maybe just not that day. It scared Claire so John spent an hour rubbing it with Sardines on the back porch to make her like it.

Saturday night we ate at Naked Chopstix and then tooled around Monument Circle. The girls heard about South Bend Chocolate Company from Lori’s sister Julie so we stopped in there for a treat while we were walking. As we ate our candy we marveled at a group of girls singing every word to UNK’s Walk It Out. We decided we needed to learn them, too and practiced on the back porch once we got home.

Circle

South Bend Chocolate Company

We even got a visit from Julie. She drove down from Cleveland and spent the night with us. We were happy to see her, but the reason she stopped in was a sad one. Julie and Lori’s grandfather, Pop, passed away on Saturday. He was 94. We all knew Pop. He was impossible not to love. At least Julie didn’t have to drive all the way back to AR by herself.

John sent them off on a high note by going to Long’s Bakery to get donuts for breakfast (Julie: You got yourself a keeper, Troy.). Then Claire wanted to give them something to remember her by so she darted out the front door and made the whole group chase her down.

Even with its sad moments, it was a rich weekend. Our 40s (late 30s in some cases) seem to be the perfect place from which to celebrate long and quirky friendships as well as honor the grand earthly journey of a loved one. We keep reminding ourselves not to take anything for granted.

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6 Comments on “A Happy Birthday with My Country Friends”

  1. jennie Says:

    Thank you, Troy. Beautiful post. It’s hard not to take things for granted, but it’s so important – I think that was something Pop was really good at. He cherished every family gathering as if it was his last.

    Sorry to be such a downer!

    The weekend sounds like it was really fun – I’m so glad you were all able to get together!!

  2. adam j. Says:

    what a fun weekend… happy birthday, felley!!!

    so nice that you have an aptly monikered cafe to take your, well, country friends to. i will expect to visit there on my next indiana adventure… bluegrass in bean blossom, surveying (briefly) the bar scene in indianapolis, and booze and cookies were all great, but i never got taken to country friends, and as barb sang, ‘i was country when…’ well, never mind (did barbara mandrell sing that or was it one of her sisters)

    as for our mission tripping, i always felt a little odd about beginning a conversation with a stranger that started with a hypothetical ‘if you were to die today…’ so i generally tried something less jolting at the beginning like ‘ nice day today’ (which it never was as it was summer in muncie and thus somewhere around 98), or ‘that sure is a nice lawn gnome you have there’. i remember once a couple who appeared to be quite stoned answered the door (plus the cloud of smoke and bong in the corner were a bit of a give away…) interestingly, they were the nicest people we met that whole day.

    so sorry to hear about pop… what a kind, gentle soul, and so full of life. i always smile when i think of him. a life well-lived…

  3. Citizen D Says:

    The weekend sounds like great fun.

    But I really love this post for, “It’s kind of hard to make cold calls about heaven.” I laughed out loud about that because it’s true and because I’ve had the same experience. What is it about evangelicals that makes them think that is the highest and best use for kids on a mission trip?

  4. jennie Says:

    I laughed out loud about the cold calls for heaven, too. Wow.

    Oh, and I am so jealous that Julie and Lori have BOTH met Dave and I haven’t. Maybe some day…


  5. Jennie,
    In time my friend, in time…we’ll make it happen. Excited to meet you too. It was such a fun time this weekend shopping with the girls. I feel like I’ve known you all for years. Bonding through retail is the best way to meet someone, I’m convinced. Troy, we need a close up of the rooster and a name for him as well. How about “Cocky”? Thank you for sharing your friends with me.


  6. wonderful wonderfu and more wonderful pictures and post.
    and i just loved that they drove up to spend the weekend with you to celebrate felley’s birthday.


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