“Making the Best of It,” June 7, 2022

My dad was a simple man. He loved simple food, like the cornbread his mother baked every day. Simple people, who never tried to put on airs. And simple pleasures, like hunting and fishing and being with me.

I loved most everything about him. He could also be what my mother called “hard to figure,” but I didn’t mind. I was a little hard to figure myself.

Dad grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, hunting, fishing and farming. He married my mother when he was 25. She was 15. They moved a few miles from the farm, near the mill where he worked different shifts every week.

My sister was born two years later. For a while, they were happy. When WWII began, Dad enlisted in the army. My mother begged him not to go, but he said he felt he had no choice.

He was shot crossing the Rhine River into Germany, and spent a month recovering in a military hospital. Finally, he was discharged and returned home to his family and his mountains and his job at the mill.

I was born a few years later. My mother never forgave him for going off to the war. They divorced when I was 2, and Dad moved back to the farm. I lived with my mother, but often spent weekends with him. He’d pick me up on Friday, and on our way to the farm he’d say, “A weekend’s not forever, but we’ll make the best of it.”

And we always did. He taught me how to ride a horse, milk a cow, slop a pig, drive a tractor … and that you don’t have to live in the same house with someone to know that they love you.

He also tried to teach me to fish, until he realized I’d much rather talk than bait a hook.

Like most good parents, he taught by example more than by words. He kept every promise. Showed up on time. Worked hard at the mill, harder on the farm. Tipped waitresses at the cafe for ham and grits or just a cup of coffee. If I needed him, he was only a phone call away. And he never forgot to thank his mother for her cooking.

He loved her cornbread. So did I. But I’d never do what he did. At the end of a meal, he’d crumble a hunk of cornbread in a glass of buttermilk and spoon up every bite. I called it a waste of good cornbread. He called it making a good thing better.

We weren’t alike in every respect. But he was my dad, and I am _ and will always be _ his daughter, a simple woman, who loves simple food, simple people and simple pleasures.

He’s been gone for 30 years, but I remember him clearly and think of him often, in the same way I hope my children will remember and think of me.

Last night, in a rare mood, I decided to make a Boston cream pie. Never mind why. I just wanted one. As you may know, it’s actually a cake. I found a recipe online: Bake one layer of a cake, split it in half, fill it with custard, put the halves back together and cover it with chocolate sauce.

Sounds easy, huh? You also have to make the custard and chocolate sauce. I did it all in about three hours, thinking “this thing better be good.” After it chilled, I cut two slices, one each for my husband and me.

It was pretty good. Not great. My husband said he liked it, but he’s learned not to complain. The cake was dry. It looked a little like cornbread. Suddenly, I knew what to do. I cut two more slices, one for each of us. But this time, before serving, I crumbled them up a bit and drizzled them with milk. And “pretty good” got a lot better.

My dad would’ve loved it. Maybe not as much as he loved cornbread in buttermilk. But he’d be proud I remembered what he taught me.

Life is like cooking. We can’t make everything the way we want it to be. But we can make the best of what we’re given.

The next time I want a Boston cream pie? I’ll buy one.


  1. Shirley Thacker says

    Love your words, your heart! You always make me feel like we are sitting on the porch, warching fireflies!

  2. Wrennah Gabbert says

    Thank you!!!!!❤️💕🌟🌹

  3. My uncle told me once that I would not ever catch any fish because I talked too much!

  4. Clara McMichael says

    I never tire of reading your words. They are words of wisdom for sure. Keep writing and keep blessing us. Thank you again!

  5. Sydney S Love says

    I always love your stories. I try to remember them. Sometimes something will happen and I remember a phrase that you have used in one of your stories. You are amazing to me. Please don’t ever quit writing. God gave you that gift and the life to write about. Your father sounds like a special man and he had a special daughter, you.

  6. Kate Sciacca says

    “The next time I want a Boston cream pie? I’ll buy one.” Can I get an AMEN????? AMEN!!!!! Or just about any pastry, pie or cake….maybe it’s the altitude…. Maybe it’s the oven or the mixer…. Or maybe it’s just me 😜😜.

    Interesting, although my dad was general counsel for a large defense contractor (Northrop) he was a simple guy too. And honest… of course, he was let go because of his honesty … but that’s another story for another time.

    The quail have returned, life is good!

  7. You made me hungry for sweets! I was just in NC so I got Krispy Kreme donuts! Makes life sweet!

  8. Jean Dewitz says

    Such a wonderful Dad; great inspiration

  9. Terri Blazier says

    A winner once again!

  10. Carole keeler says

    My mother who had North Carolina roots liked cornbread and milk also. She would crumble it into a glass and top it with milk or sometimes buttermilk and call it a cornbread float.

  11. CHope Hall says

    I look forward to your stories every week. My parents divorced when I was around a yr old & I never lived with either of them. My dad was a career Navy man & I loved him dearly. I got to spend a month with him one year. He loved pickled pigs feet. When he asked me if I liked them I said yes immediately. I had never tasted them & he gave me a liberal helping. Well, I could barely swallow a bite but gave it my best try. He looked at my plate & told me I must not know how to eat them right. He finished them for me. No thanks, never again. He’s been gone many years now & I still miss him. Thank you for your wonderful stories that bring back memories I treasure. God bless you & yours.

  12. Your Dad sounds like a fine man. Good memories!
    I grew up in Missouri & was raise on simple food too. Lots of fried potatoes, beans, sometimes cornbread & fried chicken! Our favorite bedtime snack was a slice of white bread torn in pieces, placed in a drinking glass, a generous spoon full of sugar, a little vanilla & topped off with white milk. We called it “bread,milk,sugar & vanilla. 😄 It was yummy. I also remember my Dad eating cornbread & milk. Me not so much.
    Thanks for the memories.

  13. Lynn Weiss says

    Thank you for this beautiful tribute to your dad. It warmed me to the depths of my soul. I, too, am a simple woman, and I sometimes find myself feeling apologetic for this. Your remind me that it is a wonderful thing to be. Thank you again.

  14. You do know how to tell a story and it went straight to my heart with memories of my Dad. Thank you❤️❤️

  15. Sharon: Your Father sounds like a wonderful Daddy. I loved my Dad, too. I just finished reading your book “THE WORLD and THEN SOME”. I loved the book and am recommending it to everyone I see. You are a wonderful writer. I couldn’t hardly put the book down. I finished it in 2 days. I don’t know where you get all your ideas, but keep it up!

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