June 27, 2023

From the Rector…

Today is the Feast of Queenie. Granted it is not a church-sanctioned feast day, but it has a special liturgy and means a lot to me and Steve. We celebrate by eating hot dogs and drinking Budweiser and sharing fond memories of a delightful woman—Eleanor Croom Woodfin, also known as Queenie.

When Queenie was a young woman at Judson College, she met and fell in love with a young man. He sent her a note one day that she was reading in class when the teacher took it up and read it aloud to everyone. The note contained a beautiful line in which the young man called her the “Queen of my heart”. It stuck. From that day forward she was Queenie. She married that young man and they grew old together. They were Steve’s grandparents—Queenie and Dan-daddy—and two of the most wonderful people I have ever known.

Pretty soon after I married into the family, Dan-daddy was diagnosed with dementia. They were fortunate in that they had good family support and caregivers that allowed them to stay in their home and surrounded by loved ones. Every year on Queenie’s birthday, Steve and I would take her to the Nineteenth Hole—the pool side bar and grill—at the Selma Country Club for lunch. She always ordered a hot dog and a Budweiser (hence our liturgical meal observance). It was delightful on that last birthday when she turned the young age of 89, to hear her order a hot dog and a beer. It gave me hope that in my golden years, I might still enjoy the simple things in life.

Queenie and Dan-daddy built a house on Orange Beach near the old Bear Point. The house was blown away in Hurricane Ivan and Steve’s parents rebuilt on the same piece of ground where the porpoise swim by the pier, waves splash upon the shore, and the osprey hunt for fish and eat them in the pine tree that grows next to the bay. It is a place that always brings joy and reminds me of Queenie. Whenever Steve and I would leave Selma heading for the beach, Queenie would always call us to come by the house and load us up with cakes and sausage balls for our trip. They never made it to the beach because we couldn’t wait to eat them.  

Queenie loved to cook, and she was a great cook. People still tell me stories related to her food—there was “Queenie’s Weenies” bits of hot dogs in a barbecue/mustard sauce; the “Hundred Dollar Cake” where she and her friend paid $100 for a cake recipe at the Waldorf Astoria in New York—or so the story goes. There was the angel food cake that Steve loves. When I was at seminary, Steve’s mother sent me the recipe so I could make it for Steve and that was when I learned just how much his mother and grandmother loved him. You had to sift the flour EIGHT times in the process of making that cake. The last line on the recipe card was literally, “Do not be afraid to make this cake.” Which should translate to any sane person—“Be VERY afraid of making this cake!”—it took me the entire day and I missed class trying to make that cake. My favorite was the homemade chocolate cake recipe she perfected in her eighties because she learned that I loved chocolate cake and she wanted me to have one for my birthday. 

Today is Queenie’s birthday. She died in 1998 at the age of 89. We celebrate her because she taught us about love and caring for one another. She offered small acts of kindness that made our days a little brighter. She had an endearing and courageous spirit. The day before she died, she called us all to her bedside and gave instructions about her funeral and what she wanted to wear. She was a southern woman to the very end. I miss her and I know this world is brighter because of her.  

Today, as Steve and I celebrate the Feast of Queenie, I hope that each of you has a feast to celebrate of someone in your life who has left their touch upon your soul. The celebration of those who have died is not simply a time of remembering them, but of re-membering us to one another, the living and the dead. To them, to you, and to that great cloud of witnesses—I raise a Budweiser.

Light and Life,