Hey Y’ all!
One day last week, I came home to the farmhouse, walked in the back door and an amazing thing happened! Imagine my surprise when, suddenly, caught off guard by the sweet smells lingering from breakfast, I was transported back in time. I was immediately taken back to when I was a little girl, staying at the home of my precious Aunt Bet!
You see, for most of my childhood, my momma was a full time stay at home “house wife” as it was called back then, but for a brief time, she went to work outside the home. Since I was still very young, and not yet in school, I stayed with my Daddy’s youngest sister, my sweet Aunt Bet. She always made me feel right at home! She was so kind to me and treated me as if I were her own special little girl. She had all boys and no little girl of her own, so she probably truly enjoyed having a little girl around.
I loved her cozy little abode. Everything about it was beautiful to me, and even though she had three boys, she always made a point to keep it so femininely quaint and “homey”. Greg, my closest cousin in age, was her youngest son, and my favorite playmate in the family, so I enjoyed my time in her home immensely. Also, I remember that when we went to visit her, she always had candy dishes full of the best hard candy! I always got to pick a piece before I left. Sometimes, if I was especially sweet, I got to pick two pieces!
Back to the whole “being transported” (by the smells from breakfast) thing…you see, every morning when we arrived at Aunt Bet’s door, my mother and I would be met by a delicious fragrance wafting out to greet us! Besides the usual “y ’all come in” that was always so very welcoming, we were also met by the delightful aroma of freshly brewed coffee, and hot from the skillet, crispy fried bacon! Even as a little girl, I remember just how wonderful it all smelled!
Mmmm…Coffee and bacon, what a combination! It was there every morning, as far as I can remember. Now that I am an adult and very fond of both coffee and bacon, I no doubt owe part of that devotion to my time spent at Aunt Bet’s house as a small child! I think that it imprinted upon my being…you know what I mean don’t you? Smells are such strong memory triggers and they can bring back very clear remembrances. Don’t you find that true as well?
But, mind you, this post is not about those amazing smells from breakfast…
If you don’t mind, I would love to tell you a little more about Mrs. Betty June Lyles Pipkin (now, if that’s not a southern name then I don’t know what is). She is a true “Southern Belle” in every way! There are so many ways to describe this southern momma that it is best to just give you a list.
Aunt Bet has always been known as a true “giver”. Both her friends, family, and strangers alike have always been on the receiving end of her sweet benevolence. She even took in teenage boys to raise that were not her own, but she loved them like they were her own.
She took great care of her house full of boys when they were living at home. She has now been blessed with beautiful “daughters-in-love”, as each son has married, and she has several grandchildren and great-grandchildren (she finally got those girls when sweet grand-daughters and great grand-daughters came along and they light up her life).
Aunt Bet served the Lord with a willing heart from the time that she was a very young girl! With a pastor for a father, she grew up in church and always helped where ever she was needed. I am sure, that at times she may have been “volun-told” but you never would have known it by her demeanor.
She is such a talented musician and always had a very active role in music ministry in our church. For as long as I can remember, when I was growing up, she was the organist, she played the auto harp, the acoustic guitar, was sometimes church pianist, singer, along with my other precious Aunt, her sister, ‘Til (I will be telling you more about her in another post). They even had a radio show at one time, along with my daddy.
As a child, at First Church of the Nazarene, I was in her music class during Vacation Bible School. (Something that we southern children looked forward to, with delight, each summer). She taught us the song, “The Devil is a Sly Old Fox”. And while she was standing up in front of the class, teaching us this song, I fondly remember looking down at her beautiful, sparkly, jewel studded, gold sandals, admiring them in all their “blingy beauty”. All the while we were singing, “if I could catch him, I’d put him in a box”!
It was all I could do, to focus on the song, because like all good southern girls, even at that young age, I already loved me some shoes!
And by the way, do you know that little children’s tune? Be thankful for that sweet memory if you do! (If you don’t, you can go to Youtube and watch children and adults sing this adorable song)
She was a deeply devoted and faithful daughter to her parents while they were still here with us. They were my paternal grandparents, to whom she showed unyielding dedication and compassion, as she helped care for them until they passed from earth to heaven.
Aunt Bet has always been the very epitome of feminine, still to this day and until just a few years ago she rocked high heels like nobody’s business.
She is gentle, graceful, beautiful, a sharp dresser, and is gracious in speech and manner.
She still has a great sense of humor and loves to laugh.
(Pictured here are two heirlooms from my Aunt Bet.) This was the little telephone table where she sat to talk before the days of the cordless phone or cell phone. When I began to restore the bench, I found the most precious thing. On the little stretcher bar across the bottom, there were too many scuff marks to count. This is where she scratched it by propping her little tiny feet on that bar while she talked, counseled, consoled, confided and just listened to SO many loved ones! Those are part of the charm of the chair that I would never want to erase!
Also pictured is some of the pink milk glass that I got from her when she began to clear out some of her lifelong collections. I treasure them both so very much!)
I also want you to know, that she is what one may call “a friend among friends”; one that you can always call for a listening ear and a confidential conversation. So many people use to call her for advice and just to confide their problems to her that her phone would ring off of the hook continuously! She is still a friend who loves with a fierceness seldom seen.
(Antique pink milk glass given to me by Aunt Bet)
Aunt Bet was always a fabulous southern cook and over the years has fed many a hungry soul. In the recent past, she’s had to leave the cooking to family, but that’s okay! She has done more than her share, no doubt!
One funny thing most people can attest to about Aunt Bet is that she never wants anyone to be hungry! She worries about it! Never, ever, would she have you to leave her home without having PLENTY to eat! She has been often heard by guests saying, “oh come on now, you can always eat a ham sandwich”.
Aunt Bet’s food is not something that you would want to turn down anyway, not even her ham sandwiches, but no one would want to resist her easy banana pudding! It is so simple and so delicious! (I’ve included her recipe below)
If you took a visit to Aunt Bets home, you would see that she is a lover of all things “purty” (to use her pronunciation)
And (did you guess?) she loves the color purple!
Bless her sweet heart, she tragically lost her first grandson when he was around 15 years old. Because of her deep love for family, it almost killed her. It hurt me to see her in such pain during that time, but she recovered and has been blessed with beautiful grandchildren and great grandchildren.
She was happily married to my wonderful Uncle Milton, who was such a dear, dear man, for 66 years. She took care of him through health problems that stretched out for many years. He took wonderful care of Aunt Bet through her health issues as well. We just said our temporary goodbye to him as he finished his earthly race in 2016.
Like all of us, Aunt Bet has had her share of trials and tribulations. She has endured health struggles and her memory is not what it used to be. I love her so much and even though life’s demands keep me from visiting as much as I should or would like, when I go to see her, I still always feel at home and love to be greeted with her sweet southern drawl saying, “hey honey”, “y’all come on in!”
So, now you may be thinking to yourself, “why is she telling me all of this about her Aunt Bet”.
“What does this all have to do with making my house smell sweet?”, you may ask!
What I want you to know most about my Aunt Bet and about her home is NOT that it had the delicious smell of coffee and bacon each morning.
More importantly, and to the point of this post, I want you to know that it had the beautiful aroma of a true “Southern Bella Home”!
What do I mean by that?
Well, if you read the explanation of the name” Southern Bella Home” in an earlier post, you know that Bella means beautiful. In my Aunt Bet’s home, the welcoming aroma of Maxwell House and hickory smoked bacon could not compare to the fragrance of Jesus’ love being shown to all who came through her doors. So many folks came through them, I assure you. And, as they did, she shared God’s love with them all. Her kindness there was felt by both her family and visitors alike. She offered them a sense of peace, comfort, acceptance, generosity and the light-hearted sounds of joyful laughter. I know this because I felt it. Even as a tiny little girl, I felt it. I knew that her home was special. Special like her.
I am sure that all you sweet friends want this same sweet fragrance in your home.
But what is the secret to making this a reality for our loved ones? In my opinion it is just the simple act of being open to the idea of true, biblical hospitality. Not the kind that is dependent upon the right silverware or linens or having the perfect menu planned. Instead, it is found in simply being willing to serve whom ever it is that God puts in your path. Choosing to bless others with joy and compassion. Loving as Jesus loves us, with a tender heart and the desire to ease someone else’s load.
I hope that by reading this, you are inspired by my Aunt Bet and by my memories of the atmosphere in her home. I hope you are inspired to create that same “sweet fragrance” for all those who come through your doors.
Wouldn’t we all love to know that our families thought this way about our homes?
We can be the “Aunt Bet “of the family!
Keep that sweetness in your home today, my precious friends! Love on your kin and be kind to your neighbor. Shine with the light of Jesus…
And here in the South…
A little coffee and bacon never hurts, either!
Sharon at Southern Bella Farmhouse