Danny and I finally completed MCRD, 3rd RTR, San Diego, 1975. Home and home-cooked meals. My mom asked what I wanted for my homecoming meal. No question needed to be asked. What else? Pork chops, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, collard greens, garden-fresh corn-on-the-cob, homebrewed ice- tea, and momma's fresh-baked cathead-sized biscuits. Followed by apple pie and ice cream. What a feast!
After the trip home from the airport, we went our separate ways, scheduled to meet in two weeks to go for our eventual PCS at K-Bay, 3rd Marines.
I got home, greeted friends and kinfolk, showered and got into civvies. I can smell the baking and cooking aromas that hot August afternoon still to this day. Umm mmmh!!! Nothin' beats southern country cookin' – 'specially mom's!
After the other folks left, we all sat down at the table for prayers, led by my grandfather. All during what was probably the longest prayer my grandfather ever uttered, I finally heard "Amen" over my loudly groaning stomach. Mom gave me the honor of filling my plate with her choicest pieces on the table, as well as filling one of her quart Mason canning jars withe iced tea. Afterwards, I slather her delicious biscuits with butter, my mouth, eyes and stomach drooling while everyone else took their time preparing their plate. Once this was finally accomplished, my dad grinned and said, "Let's eat!". And yessirree I did!!! I lowered my head, opened my cake-hole and began shoveling chow in as fast as my digging utensil could go. I was nothing else except a blur eating all that home-cooked food. As I raised my head a minute or so later, to take a long draught of tea to wash it all down, mouth still chawin' and smackin', I was instantly aware of all eyes on me. My cheeks were packed like a gopher with a mouth full of dirt. My lips were greasy, with gravy spots on the corner of my mouth. My brothers and sister were open-mouthed while my grandfather, dad and mom just stared at me. All was quiet… As I sat there, looking like a starving hound with food on his muzzle, mouth packed, licking his lips, my mom leaned across the table and gently whispered in the stillness, "Son? It's okay. Take your time. Eat all you want for as long as you want. If it's not enough, I'll make you some more." As I sheepishly looked around the surprised gathering, tea mug still in my hand, my youngest brother, I think, piped up with, "What else did the Marines teach you, bubba?" Well, that broke the tension. We all had a good laugh and it became a good memory. As a brief aftermath for today, if I'm out dining alone or with friends, I am usually the last to leave the table now, simply because I now prefer to eat slowly and enjoy all my meals. I'm 5'8", but weigh only 178 lbs. No pot belly on me.