I grew up knowing that I had a lot of cousins in Mississippi. My Dad grew up there. He left when he was 17 to join the Civilian Conservation Corps. After seven years of military service he met and married my mom in New York. So I grew up half yankee and half rebel. In the early nineties my folks divorced and my Dad shocked everyone by moving back to Mississippi.

After Dad moved my wife, children and I would regularly visit dad once or twice a year. We were the geographically closest to him and were able to drive to see him (my brother and sisters had to fly). That went on for a few years - I especially enjoyed going there on Thanksgiving. My dad was a great cook. He was a chef for a colonel when he was in the army (before World War II) and seemed as comfortable cooking for fifty as for five.

A few years passed and my dad remarried a wonderful woman and I was honored to be his best man. It was a strange experience standing beside him when he married again. A time I will never forget. A year or so past and my dad began working with his niece and nephew to put on a family reunion that the family simply called "The Stew" (see photo). Upwards of 50 or so of my Mississippi family along with my sisters would attend it on the last weekend in September. The timing was great because it was close to my dad's birthday.

I have great memories of meeting my Mississippi relatives. I had never met any of Dad's siblings and it was a wonderful feeling getting to know them and a bit of my southern heritage. It was a strange feeling seeing Dad's younger brother - they looked so much alike. The move was a good one for Dad. I saw a lot of change in him over the years. He began going to church and one day moved me deeply when he spoke to me about loving the Lord. I so miss my Dad.

... a place that I have been to ... part of the A to Z series.


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