The SMS on my mobile invoked sadness and brotherhood, each in equal measure.
“Celebrating my 40th birthday Saturday night. Be there. Sultan Jazz at 9.”
Sultan Jazz is one of my two favorite jazz hangouts in Singapore. The challenge with the message is that I was sitting 12 time zones away. There was zero chance that I was going to make the celebration. As much as I wished I could be there, I was not going to make it. Patterns repeating – this was a sacrifice that I did not see coming and did not want to make.
“You are in my thoughts bro. I will have a care package for you when I get back. Hope you understand.”
As I thought of what a southern boy needed a long way from home, I realized it had to be food and experiences from before. He needed to remember! A quick trip to the store resulted in some medium slow-cook grits and black strap molasses. I figured he could make the cornbread and I had no idea how to choose sausages to take back.
When we reconnected a few weeks later, it was to catch up, filling each other in on the details of our lives. As he arrived at the Asian bistro after work, I was excited! It had been so long. What was new? How had yesterday’s stories developed?
As we talked, I almost forgot about the care package. At some point something about the South came up and I remember. Reaching into my bag, I pulled out a smaller bag.
“When you send the SMS for your birthday celebration I was sitting in the heart of the South. I thought of you, your grandmother, and all the coming of age stories you have shared. Here is a few things to remember. Happy Birthday.”
The SMS’d picture the following morning said it all; Grits, sausages, and biscuits. “My kids need to know.
“Your name, God, evokes a train of Hallelujahs wherever it is spoken, near and far; your arms are heaped with goodness-in-action.” (Psalm 48.10)