Thanksgiving in the Low Country

Thanksgiving in the Low Country
(A reprint from ‘Just a Moment)
I was alone that Thanksgiving and gladly accepted the invitation to have lunch with an elderly lady in our community. She lived in one of those great old plantation homes of the Low Country in South Carolina. She had out lived her family and had no close friends; I was the only guest. I was greeted at the door by her butler and driver he ushered me into the formal dining room and Mrs. Mayfield greeted me with the charm and warmth of an old southern plantation. She asked that I sit at the end of the table and she was seated by the butler at the far end just to the right of the head of the table. Each place had been prepared as if someone would be eating in that seat, but in truth it was only the two of us. The cook and two servants served us and she asked that I offer grace. Then she began to tell me about each empty chair. At the head, on her left, was her husband’s place. He had died many years prior but there was his silverware and china. On the opposite side from her was the seat for her son killed in Korea. Next to him was his wife who had remarried and moved out of her life. Next was the place for her niece also deceased, then myself and to my left was her youngest son killed in a boating accident. To his left was his younger sister, killed in the accident with him. There was just the two of us at the splendid table plus the great memories of years gone by which she now relieved. Between the tears of lost love there were moments of thanksgiving. Even in her sorrow she could still remember and be thankful for other days. That day I begin to grow memories of thanksgiving. After the lovely dinner at the table set for eight occupied by only two Mrs. Mayfield asked if I would like to see the portraits of those absent from the table. I assured her it would be an honor so she directed me across the entrance to what she called the parlor. A nice fire was burning in the fireplace and hanging over it was a wonderful portrait of her husband, hanging on each side was an equally grand portrait of each of her sons. There was a smaller portrait of her daughter-in-law who had now left the family, one of her niece and then another grand portrait of her daughter. We took seats in the parlor and were served warm eggnog and pie. The staff was seldom seen but you always knew that they were close by waiting for any command. She explained that she kept the old house of more than 10,000 square feet open so that her staff of six who lived there would have a home and she would have someone to share her life with. I asked why she never came to church nor took part in the local community. She told the story of being an outsider. Her husband’s family had purchased the 15,000 plus acres of the plantation as ‘carpetbaggers’ after the Civil War and thus she felt she was always looked on as an uninvited guest. It seemed so strange that after one hundred years the old hurt still wounded the people of both sides. There was sadness in the grand old place, in her face, and on my heart as I looked at the splendor that life had given and the value that it also had withheld.
Ivan

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Published in: on November 23, 2014 at 11:05 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ivan, You bring joy in your devotion to our cottage here at the TBCH in Chattanooga ,Mintom Cottage. Thank You for the devotions. Mr Jeff and the boys.

    • Thank you so much


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