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A Roadmaster Buick & Slow-cooked Greens

May 27, 2011

He wasn’t a big man in stature, but he had a big heart, amazing skill with a chainsaw & a great love for his family.
My Mother’s youngest brother was laid to rest this week in Hackleburg, Alabama, four weeks after his wife was killed in the devastating tornadoes that struck that part of the country the last week in April.

This is not unexpected – he had been on hospice, deteriorating daily, but his death so near the loss of my aunt has made this a very difficult month for my cousins… & my Mother & Dad, who bought him his first bicycle a very long time ago.


(youngest of 8 children, the twins: Chois & Joyce)

Uncle Chois looked exactly like my grandfather, though at 5′ 4″, two inches shorter. Jet black hair at age 68, thanks to our Native American genes – my grandfather was half-Cherokee & his hair had no silver when he passed away at age 94! My Mother is the only blonde in a family of eight children, thanks to my Grandmother’s German ancestry.

When Uncle Chois was 16, my parents drove from Memphis one weekend for a visit in their new baby blue 1953 Buick Roadmaster. Chois inspected the shiny car up & down, then called out to my Dad, “Hey, Pete, I think you should let me borrow your new car for my date tonight.” My Dad tossed him the keys with a smile. Uncle Chois was so small he couldn’t see over the steering wheel – remember when steering wheels were huge? Mother went into the house & borrowed a chair cushion, slipped it in the driver’s seat. Chois climbed in laughing – they could just see the top of his head & he could see out under the steering wheel. But he was a big man that night driving that big Buick.


He told me that story the day of my aunt’s funeral when I visited him in the hospital. He said that he never forgot how important, how grown-up, how special my Dad made him feel that day trusting him with that car.

Rest in peace, Mother’s baby brother.

Heidelberg Catechism, Question 1:

What is your only comfort, in life and in death?

That I belong–body and soul, in life and in death–not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of His own blood has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil; that He protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that everything must fit His purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

Slow Cooked Greens

After funerals down South, friends, neighbors & family bring food to feed those who gather back “at the house.” My Mother’s family still cooks Southern-style delicious food.


  • 3 quarts Water
  • 3/4 pound Ham Hock, rinsed
  • 4 pounds small Collard Greens, Turnip Greens or Beet Greens (or a mixture of all)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt


  1. Bring water with ham hock to boil in 8 qt pot, uncovered, skimming any froth.
  2. Reduce heat & simmer, covered, 1 hour.
  3. While hocks simmer, discard coarse stems & center ribs of greens, then wash & drain.
  4. Coarsely chop greens.
  5. Add greens & pepper to water, then simmer, partially covered, 45 minutes.
  6. Remove hock from cooking liquid; Let stand 15 minutes.
  7. Discard skin & bones; Coarsely chop meat.
  8. Stir meat & salt into greens.

Serve with fresh cornbread, fried chicken, fresh tomatoes, fruit cobbler… Ahh, I love eating at family gatherings!

PS Congratulations to newest subscriber Lisa Cravens! Your bar of handmade soap is in the mail!


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