Keep in mind now, I used to hyperventilate every time I had to read Scripture out loud in Sunday school, so I might stumble a bit through this, my voice quivering along the way. It’s important, though, for me to go back over things as they happened. In some way each family member is a colorful character in the book of Who I Am. When I tell their stories, I also tell mine. And I’ve got to tell it.
Think of it this way: We’ve invited the whole family over for Saturday night dinner. A piano bench and all the extra chairs from the back bedrooms are squeezed around that oval dining table with the maple finish; Momma had to set three extra leaves into the grooves to make it big enough for all of us cousins. The little ones will be sent down to card tables in the den, which is probably best for everybody since some of the stories have a Budweiser flavor that could stunt a growing mind.
Right now, Momma’s over by the oven, wiping brow-sweat on her dishtowel. She’s about to holler.”Y’all hear me? Supper’s on the table. Food’s getting cold.”
The iced tea’s been poured and the stories will start to fly here in a second across Momma’s soul food; anybody absent is fair fodder for slight slander. If you end up sitting at the spot where you have to straddle the table leg, please bear with me; nothing about the Sparks family was ever straight and narrow (though I think just about everybody except Terri Diane has been baptized). Sometimes a tale will sound more like a poem or a song or a speech, just depending upon who rears up in my head to tell it. Still, I’m going to let every one of these characters say their piece, no matter how long it takes. Well, it looks like we’re all just about ready to say “Amen.”
All right now, let me catch my breath.