Claiming Kin

One of the things I like about the South is how quickly we can find a reason to claim kin with people. Mama excelled in this to the point that Daddy said if she found out that your grandfather’s dog crossed her grandfather’s cotton patch, that was sufficient to make you relatives.

I “take after” her which has caused me to renew interest this past week in the Miss Mississippi pageant. I probably haven’t bothered to watch for ten years, but this year I’ve claimed kin to one of the contestants, Miss Southern Magnolia. She is my daughter-in-law’s second cousin or first cousin once removed, depending on which count you use. Obviously, I’m kinfolk since that’s much closer than dogs crossing cotton patches.

Her double name, evidently as much a requirement as a drawl to enter the Mississippi pageant, is Mary Margaret. “Mary,” like “Ann” in my Virginia Ann substitutes in Southern culture nicely as the equivalent of “junior” for sons. Her mother is Margaret, as mine was Virginia.

I felt family pride in her platform of organ/tissue donation in honor of her mother and in memory of her grandmother who set the example in being a donor and a recipient. The donation gave her grandmother several extra years of life.

Social media and my daughter-in-law kept me up on the preliminary events all week as Mary Margaret enjoyed each segment and didn’t blink an eye during her talent segment but kept right on playing the piano and singing while the faulty microphones were fixed by little guys hovering across the stage about midway through her performance. In the final, Saturday night on TV, she was easy to spot as the only contestant with her hair up so we could say, “There she is!”

Mary Margaret didn’t win, but we were proud of her enthusiasm all week and her graciousness at the end. And there’s always next year. Right, cousin?