By Audrey Derryberry-Massey
About The Author
Audrey Derryberry-Massey is a freelance writer and family genealogist, who has compiled and published many stories about her family. A mother of four and grandmother of nine, she grew up in Tennessee and now lives in Huntsville, Alabama,
Audreys genealogy column, Finding Your Family, appeared biweekly in the Columbia Daily Herald, Columbia, TN. She was the original coordinator for the Maury County Genealogy web page on TNGenWeb, when it began in July 1996.
In addition to her current writing projects, Audrey has also written for Alabama Wildlife, Rooster Tales (a publication of Hydra-Sports), and several smaller historical publications. Other publishing credits include feature and news articles for The Eufaula Tribune, Eufaula, AL, and while living in Hawaii for three years, she wrote Hawaiian travel articles for her hometown newspaper, The Daily Herald (now the Columbia Daily Herald), Columbia,TN.
Audrey Massey is not a stranger to the peaks and valleys that living with a chronic disease can bring to one's daily life. In the spring of 1994 she received "one of those ominous messages," recorded on her answering machine by the doctor's office: "Mrs. Massey, I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but you have diabetes. . . "
In her own words Audrey continues, "Even though I was aware that I might develop Type 2 diabetes because of family predisposition, I was fairly sure before the phone call that my symptoms of unexplained weight loss and constant thirst indicated diabetes. It was still a shock (when the call came) and it took me almost a year to stop living each finger-sticking day with dread. Part of my recovery to a *normal* life has involved getting back to writing."
Audrey resides in Huntsville, AL. We treasure her association with Cinnamon Hearts.
| The sweetest of memories always
return to me during this season of the year. All the wonderful Thanksgivings of long ago
and those of the more recent past run through my mind like a reel of film. I can
always see the faces of my family seated around our old oak dining table, with all the
leaves in place, in anticipation of the holiday welcome from my grandmother's kitchen.
On Thanksgiving, Mother Gabell always got out her table leaves, which hid behind the big Shaker buffet the rest of the year, and waxed them until they shined. Mother would bring out her best crocheted tablecloth with the pineapple pattern and her fine linen napkins, and the two of them would polish Great-Grandmother Thompson's silver to a luster.
Our table always had two "heads." My grandfather commanded one, my father the other, and the rest of us fit in wherever we could find an empty spot. The women hardly ever got to sit down for very long, as they were constantly up, bringing in steaming dishes of meats and vegetables to replenish the platters and bowls, and filling up glasses with Mother's mint iced tea. Besides the turkey, cornbread dressing and homemade cranberry sauce, there would be one or two other meats, four or five vegetable dishes and always a choice of delectable desserts ~ chocolate cake, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, pecan pie or Mother Gabell's special chess pie.
"Evie, we need more iced tea over this way!" Daddy Tom would call, and Mother Gabell would be there with the pitcher in two shakes. He would hold out his glass, and without so much as a pause for breath, continue his animated conversation. When I close my eyes again, I can still hear those happy conversations, along with the clinking of spoons stirring that mint iced tea in Mother Gabell's Depression glasses, while forks noisily picked up the last bits of food from Mother's fine bone china plates. Most of all, I can feel the warmth generated throughout my body as I relive those precious holiday moments.
I remember each Thanksgiving as one by one our numbers
diminished, until the two chairs that always seated our two heads of the family were
empty. That first holiday without both of them was difficult, and no one really wanted to
fill those special seats. Their occupants were still there in our hearts, carving the
turkey and passing around the plates, laughing and talking and nodding to my grandmother
after the first bites to let her know her famous dishes had passed the test again this
year. We could imagine my father, gray-blue eyes twinkling and grinning ear to ear while
anticipating the taste, as he piled his plate high with his favorite fried corn and sweet
potatoes. We could hear my silver-haired grandfather's stamp of approval, "Evie,
you've outdone yourself again this year!"
Our Thanksgiving memories will live on through the generations, whether we are all physically together or not. They are rooted in the heart and soul, and no storm of life can take them from us. We pull them out each year, along with our holiday tablecloth and napkins, and as we bow our heads, we feel the clasped hands of our missing loved ones joining ours for one more Thanksgiving around the old oak table.