SummerHouse: A Murder In Savannah

“I know Miss Sally, I can’t believe Big Papa’s been gone for three months. Easter will never be the same…Bet that pew at church won’t be either!”

Taffy couldn’t help chuckle. Big Papa collapsed in the pew and cracked the seat! Been there 150 years and no one ever left a mark like Big Papa!

“Taffy, now you behave yourself. I will not have Big Papa’s memory tainted by a faulty pew…it was 150 years old, for Christ’s sakes!! It could have happened to anyone. Big Papa was one robust, strapping man and it just couldn’t take his presence thrust down on it without preparation…Taffy Marie…no more nonsense about Big Papa and that pew. I won’t have it!”

Taffy knew Miss Sally was not about to listen to anyone disrespect Big Papa’s memory…although, throughout Savannah AND the family, it was now known as “Big Papa’s Mark on Savannah!”

And the robust, strapping part? Well, that’s just a wife who still builds up her husband, even when he’s dead and gone.

Big Papa weighed 450 pounds on a good day, and the only thing strapping on him was his signature suspenders that kept up his britches!

Taffy had to laugh within herself.

“Yes, Miss Sally, I’m sorry. I know it could have happened to anyone, it just happened to Big Papa! It’s just so sad to know that he is gone, not with us anymore, and it’s the first family gathering since the funeral. It will be good to have the family together again. And with Tressa and Mandy’s big events coming up in October, we can do some real planning. Showers for both, in September I suspect, and then…the big October wedding and the big birth of Tressa’s baby. How wonderful!! I know Big Papa would just be over the moon with excitement AND plans. That man liked to plan events more than most women! He was all about any reason for a party! Remember the “Party to Celebrate No Reason for a Party”? That was just hilarious! And the people who came! Miss Sally, your husband said “party” and all of Savannah showed up!”

Miss Sally was getting misty eyed listening to Taffy. She missed Big Papa so much, and this secret she was keeping—he was the only other one in the family who knew, and now…she couldn’t talk to anyone. She heard Taffy talk about Big Papa and his parties…yes, he loved his parties! And he loved Miss Sally doing all the prep work and planning for those parties, now didn’t he? He would just announce his next reason for a party and look at her and wink—that was his way of saying, “Miss Sally, would you honor me by helping me throw this party…just one more…I would be so honored!” She could not say no to that man!

“Taffy…we can talk about the big events at the Summer House while on the BSPIF. The boys will be busy navigating the boat, and we girls can gather in the back and do some shower planning! We have to make sure both girls feel special!! A wedding and a first child? Both BIG EVENTS in the Clifton household, so…we want our girls to feel special in the Clifton way!! Both of ‘em, equally…now that’s gonna be the challenge!”

Taffy knew…no matter how Miss Sally protested, she was looking forward to the birth more than the wedding. She loved adding to the fold. Miss Sally loved spoiling her grandbabies. And she often said, “You wanna make Miss Sally happy? Put a new baby in my arms! I’m plum tickled pink every time we have a new Clifton in the house! More to remember me by, more to carry on the Clifton name and Clifton ways!”

The entire family knew how she felt about adding to the fold. As soon as there was a wedding, before the ink dried on the marriage certificate, Miss Sally was asking “When you gonna make me some grandbabies?” You know I want me some grandbabies…the sooner, the better! Come on, get working! You’re not just playing anymore…I want you to produce!!”

Everyone laughed when she said it. The new members thought she was kidding; the old members knew… that woman was dead serious! You were not official Clifton until you produced an heir. She didn’t care, boy or girl, just a Clifton heir. And for the girls, she expected the middle name to be Clifton, boy or girl. She has never forgiven that Deen boy for not obliging. He may be Paula’s favorite cousin, but he’s on Miss Sally’s short list…and anyway, all of Savannah knows who the “REAL Cook of Savannah” is… and it most certainly does not rhyme with Rawla Green!!