Twelve years ago, my family celebrated my wife’s birthday by going to Syrup Sopping in Loachapoka with her parents, who were visiting from Tennessee.
I remember several things about that day, starting with how far we had to walk after we’d parked. Our four children were between the ages of 7 and 13, and they enjoyed watching the horses marching around in circles.
We sopped up the namesake syrup with Hardee’s biscuits, and we watched people in strange clothes do things nobody has to do anymore.
We bought a long stalk of sugar cane and went home, where we played football in the yard until the two oldest boys got so angry that it wasn’t fun anymore. Then we went inside and watched the Tennessee Vols, under Lane Kiffin, almost beat Bama.
That night, my father-in-law made one of his famous cakes for Bess’ birthday. I want to say it was sherry butter but I’m not sure.
Today, all the kids are out of the house. Bess and I skipped Syrup Sopping, which is now part of Pioneer Days. What’s the point without kids, right?
Bess’ father is gone now and her mother is under care in Memphis, so I went to the grocery store to buy Bess a cake. I picked out a sheet cake and told the baker to write “Happy Birthday, Bess” in the icing.
The baker said she’d just put those same words on another cake and she didn’t think there were any other Besses in town. So, I bought ice cream and went home and waited for the mystery cake giver to reveal herself.
We turned on the TV and there was Kiffin, now with his fifth team in a dozen years. Things have changed, and they haven’t. Life rolls on.