Most husbands, if they carry a photo of their wives, like for it to be one of glamour and beauty. That would not be my husband.
On his iPhone as his screen saver, the image that comes up every time he turns on or opens his phone, is a photo he found tucked away one day. It is a little red-headed, freckle-faced 3-year-old with laughing eyes, chubby cheeks and a big smile. I am seated, bare-footed, on the front porch of our little brick house with a stubby arm thrown around my bushy-haired collie mutt who weighed more than I. Of course, I have on tiny, dark-blue shorts and a coordinating plaid shirt. My clothes are homemade by Mama. I can tell by how tiny the buttonholes are, that the buttons are white and not dark blue (she used whatever she could find) and the plaids are perfectly matched. Mama never sewed plaids or stripes that did not match up at the seams, which is the trademark of an expert seamstress.
At least a few times a day, he will say happily when the photo comes up, “Look at that little Satterfield girl. Oh, how I love that little girl.”
Sometimes I will laugh and reply, “That little girl is going to grow up to marry a handsome Hollywood producer.” We both chuckle thinking of that innocent country child and how she will one day glimpse a world so different than her simple upbringing among chickens, cows, hogs and horses.
Tink is joyous over that photo. He treasures it. Eagle-eyed as he is, he noticed that my little feet are tinged red from the clay of our Georgia hills and that there are similar red stains up my legs. I spent most of my childhood summers running bare-footed and have a couple of scars to show for it, having run into a rusty can or two and one broken Coke bottle.
“How did you get dirt on your legs?” He has to know all facts.
“I suppose I was sitting cross-legged in my sand pile (there was no ‘box’ to it. Just a bunch of sand that Daddy dumped in the backyard for me to play in), making mud pies.” I smiled. “I made the best mud pies around. I used old pie tins that Mama gave me and I would decorate them with holly berries or green leaves or wild blackberries. I was quite a mud pie maker.”
Just so you know, just so you’ll see that I haven’t gotten above my raising, not a lot has changed for that little red-headed girl. I live within hollering distance of that front porch, I still spend much of my summer days at home going bare-footed, I have a dog as a best pal and the rusty but trusty red clay of the north Georgia hills still stains my feet and sometimes my legs and takes a lot of intensive scrubbing to remove. No, I don’t make mud pies anymore but I do a lot of yard work. I cut the grass, trim the hedges, fight the thistle in the pasture and plant flowers.
I was doing a photo shoot in New York City once for the cover of a book and I mentioned my yard work while in the make-up chair. The make-up artist, a guy from Texas, pulled back in horror and said, “No, honey, ladies garden. They don’t do yard work.”
“Trust me,” I replied levelly. “What I do is hard yard work. Gardening is much too gentle a word for that.” Not long ago, Tink was working in L.A. and I sent a photo of my red-stained feet just to remind him that I am, undeniably, still that same little girl.
About the only thing that has changed is that Mama doesn’t make my clothes any more. And that is both a good thing and a bad thing.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of “There’s A Better Day A-Comin’.” Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her free weekly newsletter.