Most husbands, if they carry a photo of their wives, like for it to be one of glamour and beauty. That would not be my husband.
As his iPhone screensaver — the image that comes up every time he turns on or opens his phone — Tink has a photo of me that he found tucked away one day. It is a little, red-headed, freckle-faced 3-year-old with bright eyes, chubby cheeks and a big smile. I am seated, barefooted, on the front porch of our little brick house with a stubby arm thrown around my bushy-haired collie mutt, who weighed more than I did. Of course, I have on tiny, dark-blue shorts and a coordinating plaid shirt. My clothes were homemade by Mama. I can tell by how tiny the buttonholes are that the buttons are white and not dark blue (she used whatever she could find), and the plaids are perfectly matched. Mama never sewed plaids or stripes that did not match up at the seams, which is the trademark of an expert seamstress.
At least a few times a day, he will say happily when the photo comes up, “Look at that little Satterfield girl. Oh, how I love that little girl.”
Sometimes, I laugh and reply, “That little girl is going to grow up to marry a handsome Hollywood producer.”
We both chuckle thinking of that innocent country child and how she one day will glimpse a world so different than her simple upbringing among chickens, cows, hogs and horses.
Tink is joyous over that photo. He treasures it. Eagle-eyed as he is, he noticed that my little feet are tinged red from the clay of our Georgia hills and that there are similar red stains up my legs. I spent most of my childhood summers running barefoot and have a couple of scars to show for it, having run into a rusty can or two and one broken Coke bottle.
“How did you get dirt on your legs?” He has to know all facts.
“I suppose I was sitting cross-legged in my sand pile (there was no ‘box’ to it. Just a bunch of sand that Daddy dumped in the backyard for me to play in), making mud pies,” I said with a smile. “I made the best mud pies around. I used old pie tins that Mama gave me and I would decorate them with holly berries or green leaves or wild blackberries. I was quite a mud-pie maker.”
Just so you know, just so you’ll see that I haven’t gotten above my raising, not a lot has changed for that little red-headed girl. I live within hollering distance of that front porch. I still spend most of my summer days at home going barefoot. I have a dog as a best pal, and the rusty but trusty red clay of the North Georgia hills still stains my feet and sometimes my legs. Those marks take a lot of intensive scrubbing to remove. No, I don’t make mud pies any more, but I do a lot of yard work. I cut the grass, trim the hedges, fight the thistle in the pasture and plant flowers.
I once was doing a photo shoot in New York City for the cover of my book and I mentioned my yard work while in the makeup chair. The makeup artist, a guy from Texas, pulled back in horror and said, “No, honey, ladies garden. They don’t do yard work.”
“Trust me,” I replied levelly. “What I do is hard yard work. Gardening is much too gentle a word for that.”
Not long ago, Tink was working in Los Angeles and I texted him a photo of my red-stained feet just to remind him that I am, undeniably, still that same little girl.
About the only thing that has changed is that Mama doesn’t make my clothes any more. And that is both a good thing and a bad thing.
Rich is the author of “There’s A Better Day A-Comin.’” Go to www.rondarich.com to sign up for her newsletter.