Mary Onezima Ralph Bradley, my mother, was the quintessential hostess, graciously feeding groups from class reunions to business meetings to elderly illiterate cousins and lonely parolees. She didn’t just feed them, but incorporated their problems as her own. She was the Southern version of The Matchmaker, but she matched jobs to the jobless, income sources to the penniless, living water to the spiritually dry. Her home was a haven for the downtrodden, some for hours, others for years.
She was a woman of passion. She was passionate about everything that really counts—her faith, her husband, her children and later their families, her extended family of eight siblings, dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins, and her friends. She was passionate about education and constantly demonstrated the term “life-long learner.”
But she was passionate about trivia as well: setting the table, adding ingredients to a recipe in the correct order, addressing an envelope, weeding the garden, answering the phone, moving a chair from one place to another, placing a book on the coffee table. All were fodder for her particular passionate perspective.
Above all, she was passionate about Jesus Christ.
But she was also a human being and flawed. During the first 80 years of her life, she had a quick temper and a sharp tongue to go with it. Stories of her temperamental responses have become family legend, but she managed to live through them and grow by them. And her growth jump-started the development of the rest of us as well.
I have written a book telling of my mother’s exploits and how both she and we grew from them—socially, spiritually, emotionally. I continue to work on this book as events prompt additional memories. Each chapter ends with a recipe of one of her special food items that was mentioned in the chapter. Recipes include such Southern favorites as Fresh Coconut Cake, Fried Okra, Blackberry Cobbler, Pork Barbecue, and Fried Green Tomatoes. Can’t you feel your arteries clog, just reading the names of the foods she so beautifully prepared?
These days, a well-written book about an interesting person is not enough. Publishers want writers already to have a platform—meaning followers on a blog, speaking engagements, and other connections that will help to sell books. So before I can submit my book, I must work on my platform. Right now my platform is so small I must balance on one foot to stand on it.
People tell me they read my blog, but I need readers who will sign up on my blog as a follower. I need to speak to women’s groups or church groups or parent groups wherever they’ll have me. I’m working on updating my deplorably obsolete website. My precious little Findlay is not even mentioned on it, and he’ll be a year old next month! Thus an excuse to post a picture of little Finn Byers with his doting cousin Knox. And to ask my readers to sign up as followers of my blog. Thanks, dear friends.