|One summer, my parents and I took a trip to Tennessee. On the way back home, we were
going to pass within a few miles of the town where my Uncle Virgil and Aunt Opal lived in
southern Mississippi. We were approaching that point when my mother suggested we stop
to see them. However, it was almost 3 a.m. and my father insisted that he was not, under any
circumstances, going to wake someone up at 3 a.m. for a surprise visit. My mother insisted
that they would be upset if they knew we were so near without stopping.
The argument went back and forth, but my mother ultimately won the battle. So, as soon
as we arrived in their town, we called my aunt and uncle. They said they would be
happy for us to come by. It took several minutes to reach their house and my father
muttered every second of the way about how outrageous it was to intrude on someone
at that hour and how, despite what they'd said, they were undoubtedly irritated to have to
get out of bed in the middle of the night. My mother just smiled and nodded. (She
could afford to be magnanimous, after all, she had won the argument.)
We knocked on their door at 3 a.m. -- my mother, happy for the chance to see her brother
and his family -- my dad and I (travel-weary and knowing we were only a few hours
away from New Orleans and home), just wanting to say hello and goodbye, for their
sake as well as ours, because we were sure they'd be anxious to see us on our way
and get back to bed.
But my dad and I were so wrong.
The door opened and we were enveloped in enthusiastic hugs all around. The smell of coffee
and bacon drifted into the living room. Aunt Opal was kneading biscuit dough in the kitchen. In
the 10 minutes since we'd called, she'd started putting together a breakfast fit for royalty and
sufficient to feed half of the Royal Navy. We settled at the kitchen table and talked about our
trip and one thing and another, while Aunt Opal bustled happily around the room, frying bacon
and eggs, setting the table and pulling out jar after jar of homemade jam.
It wasn't long before my dad and I had forgotten all thoughts of home and were happy to be
wrapped in the loving shelter of Aunt Opal's warm and welcoming kitchen. We had a
wonderful visit. We left my Uncle about to get ready for work (too late to try to get any more
sleep) and my Aunt contentedly washing dishes (after steadfastly refusing all offers of help).
My mother, much to her credit, didn't say 'I told you so,' even though I'm sure she wanted to.
Two days later, we received a note from Aunt Opal, saying how happy they were to see us
and thanking us for visiting.
I'd like to say that, if someone woke me up at 3 a.m. for a surprise visit, I'd be gracious
enough to send them a thank-you-for-visiting note, but I'm doubtful about it. Extremely
doubtful. I don't feel too bad about that though, because I know that Aunt Opal was
a very special person. And, at any given time, the world has scant few of those.
|Breakfast at Aunt Opal's
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