Authors: Milam McGraw Propst
Tags: #FICTION / Contemporary Women
Praise for Milam McGraw Propst
“The madcap adventures of the Newberry family race from laughter to tears and back again. The entire book is a vibrant affirmation of life and love that will make you want to find your own Dear Ones’ and give each and every one of them a hug.”
—Jaclyn Weldon White,
Whisper to the Black Candle
Mockingbird in the Moonlight
“Milam McGraw Propst is likely to join the ranks of Lucy Maud Montgomery and Laura Ingalls Wilder.”
“Milam McGraw Propst has written a honey of a book - sweet and rich with characterizations that spring to life.”
—Jackie K. Cooper, reviewer, author of
“Don’t miss this delightful, heartwarming journey into friendship.”
bestselling author of the
Red Hat Club
“CREOLA’S MOONBEAM provides us twinkling eyes through which we see . . . into the life-giving forces of cut-a-rug dancing, triumphantly hope-filled, eternally ingenious older women.
May we all SHINE ON with the sass, vinegar, guts, honesty and spirit of these extraordinary sparkplugs!”
—Charlene Ann Baumbich,
author of the
Milam McGraw Propst
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead,) events or locations is entirely coincidental.
Memphis, TN 38130
Copyright © 2006 by
Milam McGraw Propst
Printed and bound in the United States of America.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
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Interior design: Hank Smith
Table of Contents
On the occasion of her 90th birthday, July 23, 2004,
I am indeed honored to dedicate my new book,
to my cousin and dear friend,
Ociee Annette Nash Robnett.
Poet, family historian, musician, mother, wife, and grandmother, Ociee Annette has been a gift to me.
A model of courage, endurance, and strength,
she follows in the footsteps of her aunt and namesake,
my grandmother, Ociee Nash Whitman.
Creola Moon was butterscotch in color and built like a biscuit, the flakey kind of biscuit that has lots and lots of layers. She and her family had come to Georgia from the exotic realm of New Orleans. Creola’s distinctive grin — missing a tooth — filled most of her pie-round face. Her zebra-striped hair made her easy to spot each morning as she walked the short block down the tree-shaded Georgia street and into my anxious arms. I was a small white girl, and she was the large black nanny who raised me.
Creola was the first and most dear friend I made. She remained in my life for nearly fifty years as a confidante, mentor, encourager, and advisor. It was Creola who taught me the art of storytelling. I called her
Crellie rarely called me and my sister by our given names, Harriette and Mary Pearle. She coined
as her special name for me, while my sister became
. We girls loved the fun and the mystery of having unique names. I, most especially.
To me, she was my Crellie. I was her Moonbeam.
I admit it: I talk to her spirit. A grown woman, talking to ghosts. For one thing, I’m old enough that I don’t always sleep soundly. Years of listening for babies to cry and for teenage drivers to pull up in the driveway laid that groundwork.
Today, for example, I woke up in my suburban Atlanta home well before the sun. My husband, Beau, was away on a business trip.
. That’s a lie. I’d been awake most of the night tossing and turning, thinking, making trips to the bathroom, drinking water, and returning to bed to repeat the pattern. My decision was firm.
Sliding out of bed, I jumped into my warm-up suit and running shoes. I grabbed my latest manuscript from the bedside table, tiptoed down the hall, and hurried out the kitchen door. Lifting the garbage can lid, I hurled the papers into a smelly stew of last night’s meat loaf, coffee grounds, egg shells, rice, and butter beans.
“Good riddance to you!”
Flashlight in hand, I headed out for a long, quiet dawn walk. I needed the exercise. I also wanted to remove myself from the temptation of going back to rescue eight weeks of fruitless writing. The truth be told, my book of short stories read like garbage. The hodgepodge, whose sole connection was the same typeface, Arial, belonged in a galvanized can.
Two hours later, I stood sipping hot green tea and watched as the sanitation worker dumped the trash into the back of his truck. The always warm and cheerful man secured his load under the tarp and grinned at me. His white teeth gleamed in the early morning sunshine.
“’Mornin’, Miz Newberry.”
What my heart heard him say was,
Sure you want me to take this to the dump? After all, you did work eight long weeks on it
What came out was, “Good morning to you.”