Food, Love, and Support in the Deep South

My friend, Judy’s, beautiful property on Lake Logan Martin

Our family lost a good friend to cancer last week at the young age of 48; Jim Townsend.  Jim lived and most of his family live in or near the Alabama town in which I have deep roots. Although I left the area almost forty years ago, I have maintained close ties with friends there who are more family than friends. I have traveled back to visit at least once a year, and at other times for important events. I just returned from Jim’s service, and spent several days with his mother, Judy, my dearest and longest friend. We talked, cried, and laughed, and ate wonderful food prepared and delivered by many friends. I was awe struck by the volume and quality of the food. I think people in the deep south show their love and support through food like no others do. Perhaps there are lessons in this for others of us.

Food was provided to four main homes; Jim’s home, for his wife, Tammy, and 3 teenage girls; his mother, Judy’s; his sister, Patti Anne’s; and his brother, Lee’s; and (I think) on a smaller scale, to other family members. Volumes of food supplies were also given, including paper products, and soft drinks and sweetened and unsweetened iced tea. In the six days that I was there, we never had to cook or purchase anything that was needed; it had all been provided and was so appreciated. The graciousness of friends was present all around us. As I reviewed the “spread,” I took note of the food, amazed at the variety, quality, and quantity. I also noted what food was able to be easily frozen and enjoyed later, and even when the food arrived, noticing that it was not all sent at the beginning, but spread out over several days.

Just some of the wonderful friends whose cooking kept the family nourished in many ways.

Most of the food was home cooked. There were a few exceptions to this. There was a large Honey Baked Ham and a spread of pizzas. Both of these are food items enjoyed by most people. Ham is able to be eaten for more than a week. It doesn’t, however, freeze well, unless it is used in a casserole. (I made a Ham and Wild Rice Casserole for the family the night before I left.) There was loaf bread and brioche rolls, good for a sandwich of honey baked ham. The pizza was sent by Lee’s work family to Tammy’s home soon after Jim’s death, and was important nourishment for the teenagers and others. There was also a large cold cut tray of sandwich meats and vegetables, which was good pick up food for a variety of tastes.     

The chicken casseroles and chicken and rice dishes were also enjoyed by many and were able to be eaten several days after given. Ribs and barbecue were finished off before their shelf life became an issue! Crock pots of roast and vegetables were a complete and easy meal. There was also fried chicken, baked beans, and potato salad.

Vegetables were varied and plentiful. There were several pots of fresh green beans and bowls of macaroni and cheese. There was mashed potatoes, lentils and rice, squash casserole, purple hull peas, cole slaw, and broccoli salad. There was also a Greek salad and pita bread.

This photo of the Lentils and Rice does not begin to show how wonderful it is!

Other meals were provided at different times, all of which could be eaten for a few days and also frozen to be enjoyed later. One was an egg and sausage casserole that provided nourishment the morning of the funeral, and some of it was frozen in squares for later. Another was lasagna and garlic bread, which was sent to Patti Anne’s. If there is anything left of the lasagna, it can easily be cut in squares and frozen. There was also a tray of chocolate/peanut butter squares, cheesecake bars and tubs of chicken salad and pimento cheese delivered to Patti Anne several days after the funeral, just when something different was needed and at a time that most of the other food had been eaten and/or frozen.  

All that is left of the Large pan of delicious lasagna!
Scrumptious caramel squares

Desserts were abundant, and included pound cakes, chocolate layer cake, caramel cake and squares, pecan pies, chocolate pie, lemon pound cakes, peanut butter cake, brownies, cheesecake bars, lemon bars, muffins, and cinnamon rolls. While all of the dessert was enjoyed, and of course, it was all appreciated, the lemon pound cakes and pecan pies were eaten the most and finished first. That is, those were what some of us saw and enjoyed. Lee did not share the banana pudding that was at his house, saying it was the best he has ever tasted! A big bag of cheese straws was kept out on the kitchen counter at Judy’s and gradually disappeared over the days I was there.

Delicious cheese straws

It is easy to understand how I gained four pounds in six days! Food is comfort and saying goodbye to Jim Townsend needed some comfort. I ate without worrying about the pounds, knowing that they should come off quickly now that I am back in NC, away from the volume and quality of delicious southern food. Hopefully the pounds will come off quickly, that is; that remains to be seen!

I gave this sign about calories to Judy years ago, never knowing I would need its promise so much!

To friends of the Townsends who provided such love and nourishment in their time of need, thank you. Your example of southern hospitality was so appreciated by them and those others of us who enjoyed the fruits of your labor. Bless you.

This live oak tree to be planted later was given by our daughter Tara and family, one of many gifts from the heart.

If anyone reading this provided food or food products that isn’t mentioned, the error is all mine, and I sincerely apologize. Flowers and memorial contributions were also provided by many people, and are also very appreciated by the family. 

A good message for all of us on this sign between the kitchen and family room at Judy’s home.

Jim Townsend, you were sent home in fine fashion, and leave behind a loving family and good friends to cherish your memory. Your light will shine forever, and you live forever in our hearts.   

About Patti Fralix

Patti Fralix inspires positive change in work, life, and family through Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching in three specialty areas: Leadership, Managing Differences, and Customer Service. Her leadership firm, The Fralix Group, Inc., has been helping clients achieve practical and tangible results for twenty-two years.
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4 Responses to Food, Love, and Support in the Deep South

  1. Patti, what a precious post. Southerners show their love through the gifts of food. Judy and family have been in my prayers each day. Love to you my friend

    • Patti Fralix says:

      Thank you, dear friend. I just returned from Judy’s late today. I know you understand me not getting to Gadsden, for Covid reasons as well as needing to be with Judy. Mike and I went down last Friday, and Mike left on Sunday, and I stayed with Judy until today. A lot of sadness, but as you know, at these times there are also good times, remembering Jim, and our lives through the years. Love to all there.

  2. Carla Pettis says:

    As always, you said what we all feel. Thank you, Patti. It was lovely to see you, even though the circumstances were just awful. ❤️❤️❤️

    • Patti Fralix says:

      Thank you, sweet Carla. Your lasagna and peanut butter cake account for some of my 4 pound gain! It was good to see Lesly and Paul, also. And the photos of the girls are just beautiful. Next time I am in Talladega, let’s make it for a happy visit. Stay safe.

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