Let’s skip 50+ years and then let’s share some cobbler…

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

Ingredients:
1c self rising flour
1c milk
1c sugar
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
~Add peaches
~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!!!

Love

Alright y’all. This week has been SO crazy. SO busy. And SO hard. Adulting really IS hard! I did make it as far as to buy the ingredients needed for the next recipe in the box… And that was quite the task seeing as how The Bear has figured out how to stand up in the shopping cart. In a recent post I shared my love for the new Winn Dixie near my house. It’s not that fun anymore. ? I will have to only go with the carrier until this kid stops trying to leap over the side. Anyway… After a long day(s) of prepping our townhouse to rent… (We are a far cry from Chip and Joanna Gaines) I brought Oliver home and stood in the kitchen with him at my feet signing “food, food”. I put together something fairly healthy for his little growing self and heard my own tummy rumble. Hmm… Cereal? Rice Crispies! I haven’t eaten those in a really long time! I only have this box because Billy has been begging me for rice crispy treats lately. And as I stood there, pouring milk over a heap of flakes, feeling like I had failed at this week’s recipe challenge, I heard it! Snap, crackle, pop! I was literally taken back in time to Mamaw’s kitchen. She always had these and I would coat them in sugar and not mix it in very well so that when I scooped up bites to eat there would be a gritty, sugary, treat on the edge of every spoonful. Did you do that too?? When I started this challenge I said that I would make one of the recipes from the tin OR make something that she served in her kitchen. So, there you go. Go get you some! It was a nice treat!

This week, along with my spoonfuls of sugar, I’d like to tell you the beginning of their sweet love story. In starting this blog, one of my greatest dreams has come true! I have been able to “write” with my dad. It’s not in the way I envisioned but it’s close enough. When I’m having trouble remembering or need my facts checked, we text back and forth until I feel comfortable with my post. A few weeks ago, he sent me the facts of their meeting with some details that I couldn’t quite recall. My father has a remarkable memory!

Pa’s father, Enoch Croft died when Pa was 16. Shortly after his death Pa’s mama moved from North Florida with her 5 youngest children to Belleview (just south of Ocala).¬†Mamaw lived on the farm in Center Hill and attended the Linden Church Of God. The Wildwood Church of God had a revival that year (1944). It was conducted in a Gospel Tent erected behind the church sanctuary. People traveled from all around the surrounding area to attend. So there you have the setting. A good old fashioned tent revival where a very¬†shy 16 year old Lindsey and a very tall, very pretty, very young (12) Lucile both attended.

Lindsey was under conviction and knew he needed salvation but couldn’t overcome his shyness to walk the ‘sawdust trail’ (the aisle) to the front. One night however, he couldn’t hold back any longer. He felt that love flooding, heart tugging, soul changing draw and made his way down to the altar. He felt that magnificent love that was even strong enough to wrap itself around a fatherless and broken young man. Many people from the congregation gathered around him and prayed. Lindsey was gloriously saved from his sins that night and the lonely was set into a family of believers. After he had received the Lord as his personal savior, he wanted to go back to his seat but was so shy he couldn’t make himself walk back facing all those people. So his plan was to just stay in the altar with his face buried in his arms until everyone went home. How sweet is that, by the way?! Don’t you just want to travel back in time and hug that quiet, brave little teenager?

All of those who prayed with him by this time had returned to their seats. So there he was, on his knees at the altar, all alone. After a while, he heard someone kneel beside him crying. Then this person began to pray for Lindsey to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost. He peeked out of the crook in his arm to steal a imageglimpse of a pretty young girl he didn’t know praying for him with the strength and tenacity of a mighty warrior. He thought, if she cares this much for a little back-woods boy she doesn’t even know… that she would cry and pray over me like this, then I want to receive everything she believes God has for me. That’s when he received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. And with that gift an amazing thing happened…he received a great boldness and his shyness left him immediately, enabling him to spend his life preaching the Gospel. Later that night he said to himself, “I don’t know who that girl was but I want her to pray for me for the rest of my life.” And thus began their love story.