I wasn’t sure when to bring this up. I’m not good at telling this part of Mamaw and Pa’s story. Would it be ok with you if I just got this part over with? Can I go ahead and tell you about their last day together here on earth? In my last entry, I told you about their meeting. I’d like to fast forward to the “end” and then fill in the middle. I’ve been missing them so much lately and while remembering all the beautiful bits of their story, the sad heart wrenching parts have been looming overhead. Perhaps if I can just get it out now, the dread of telling it will fade away.
On January 20, 2000 I was settled in my patent’s living room watching ER. That’s how I know it was after 10:00 pm. ER was on. My father answered a knock at the door. When I saw their faces, I knew the earth was about to crumble. Why else would my pastor and a close family friend be at my door on a Thursday night after 10? I braced myself. I heard them mention my fathers “mom and dad” and that’s when the crying started. I ran to escape the news, as if not hearing it would make it untrue. I found myself in the trees and the Florida sand near my house. There were arms and sweet voices and a chill in the air. Sweet church ladies had come to help us bear the unbearable news. I found myself back on the porch. I don’t know how I got there. I felt the warm embrace of the Holy Spirit. It quite literally felt as though He wrapped me up in a blanket. I felt His sweet comfort and began to pray in the Spirit and when I realized what was happening I demanded that He leave me to my grief. I indeed felt His presence lift (not leave) as I continued to rage. I found myself on the floor in the kitchen clinging to the telephone. Jennifer Beckham’s voice prayed for my peace. I found myself on my bedroom floor, holding their pictures to my chest. Women from the church sat close by comforting me as best they could. I’m actually going to stop here for tonight. 16 years have passed. The tears still flow brand new. Let’s talk about them tomorrow. And we will talk about peach cobbler. For now, I’m gonna grab a tissue, swallow this lump in my throat, and watch some Gilmore Girls. I tried y’all.
Ok… Let’s try this again…
I got up this morning and decided to dig through the pile of newspaper clippings my daddy gave me. So many articles written about that tragic night. I got about halfway through them, my stomach tipsy turvy with emotion, my fingers shaking as they unfold fragile paper. How can the words still cut so deeply? I tried to sift through the faded pages and come up with a summery for you. But how do you summarize agony caused by senseless violence? So here is what you should know. Lindsey and Lucile Croft lived their lives to please and honor God and to love on others. Their theme song was “Let My Life be a Light”. In 50 years of marriage, that was their goal. Reaching the lost, helping the wanting, loving the lonely. So when Ricky Boone appeared at the door that Thursday evening… After an afternoon visiting with friends, settling in with their almost nightly bowls of popcorn… They answered it. Pa knew him from the livestock auction. He had delivered calves to the farm before and had even worked in our hay field one summer. He arrived with a friend. They had broken down. Pa allowed them to use the phone to call for a ride. He was trying to help them, because that’s what he did. I can imagine the kind and reassuring words he likely used in their interaction. He walked them back outside and their real plan came into action. Sheriff Farmer (who was so wonderful to us) spent 12 years investigating homicides but said that these were the worst murders he could recall in Sumter. They used a liquor bottle that they had brought, knives from my Mamaw’s kitchen, a bronze deer from the living room. They violently snuffed out their lives, while she cried out to Jesus. I’ll never fully get it. It’s not for me to understand, I guess. I know that for times like this and for questions like these, she lovingly and knowingly inscribed Proverbs 3:5 in the Bibles she gave to her grandchildren. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, Lean not on your own understanding. They were my heart. All of it. The unconditional love they showered me with and the faith they instilled in us all.
In the midst of all the ugliness though, what is lovely is that for 50 years, when he wasn’t away preaching or if she wasn’t cuddling a baby or a grand baby… (Yep, we co slept at Mamaw’s house y’all) she fell asleep on his shoulder. Every night. One wasn’t left in this world without the other. From the time they fell in love until the time they breathed their last, her doors were always opened by her sweet gentleman, her chairs were always pulled out for her, he always had her by his side, he always knew her faithfulness. One of the newspaper articles said that that dreadful night turned a “sunny little ranch into a place of pain and horror”. Perhaps it did. At last glance, there is police tape and red covered carpets and terror and rage and so many questions… But if you look again, a little further back… there are 3 little houses. There are babies born and meals shared and a little girl sitting in her tree. There are sermons prepared in a tiny office which doubled as a play space for me and their other grands. There are sunflowers and grape vines. There are chickens and sugar cane. There are bike rides and Brown Eyed Susan’s. I can still smell the front porch at Grandmama’s house. I can still hear the grinding of the cane. I can still feel their love all around me. It may not look sunny in those clippings but it will always be sunny in my mind. And we know the real ending anyway don’t we? It didn’t really end in that disturbing scene. It never really ended at all. They are still cheering us on to our own finish. And they are cheering side by side.
And still… They are a light to us all…
And now… Let’s make some cobbler. After reliving all that…allow me this comfort please. I hesitate to share this recipe because I’m selfish and it is indeed my go to dessert. I feel closest to her and my mom when I’m making it and like I have accomplished something real and good and honest. It makes me look like I’m not an imposter housewife but like I do in fact know what I’m doing. My mom actually taught me how to make this but Mamaw had taught her. It was the first thing I brought to a Ullah gathering and it’s known in the family as “America’s Peach Cobbler”. It isn’t mine though. It’s hers. And it’s extremely good. And extremely easy. And any well stocked pantry has everything you need. I love how uncomplicated it is and that just a few ingredients will quickly add up to the perfect friendly treat. I share it at family and church gatherings, dinner parties, and I’m about to make one to welcome new neighbors who just moved in across the street. It is my favorite thing to make. It’s fluffy and happy and simple and always there for you. And in honor of her giving nature… I’m sharing the recipe with you… Whoever is actually reading this silly little blog. ? It’s so good, it made it into the name of this blog in case you haven’t put that together yet!
Mamaw’s Peach Cobbler
1c self rising flour
1 stick salted butter
1-2 cans diced peaches (your preference) You can also use fresh or frozen but my pantry ALWAYS has canned so I can ALWAYS have cobbler!
~Melt butter in pan while preheating oven. Now pan is greased, butter is melted, and oven is ready. That’s my secret for several recipes. My mama taught me that.
~Mix together flour, milk, and sugar
~Pour mixture into melted butter
~bake at 375 until toothpick comes out clean
Enjoy with loved ones!!! Add vanilla ice cream if that suits your fancy! Seriously y’all. This is the sweetest gift I can give you. It is so perfect. You are most welcome!!!