It’s been a long time since I’ve given y’all an update on my kooky, quirky (but always loving and entertaining) family.

Much of this has to do with the pandemic. We just couldn’t see each other very much or gather in any sort of group. And when my family gets together you can bet it’s a GATHERING.

A few days ago was the first time we got together as a family and it still wasn’t the full big family. But we used little 1-year-old Carter’s birthday as a reason to finally come together. It was long overdue.

We got over to Kook’s house in Rockmart with the intention of getting in the swimming pool. But the weather turned cool and stormy, so there I was sitting in my swim trunks when it’s 60 degrees and thundering outside.

Papa is doing well. He looks thin and tired but he’s still smart as a whip. He has a story for every situation. I suppose when you’ve lived as long and worked as hard as he has, you’ve got a lot of experiences to share that the younger generation would do well to learn from.

Neeve and her girls were there and so was Julie and Barton. Terra, Jen, Georganna and Sandi were there, and of course Lindsey and Jody with little Carter who we were there to celebrate.

The hosts — Kook, David and Logan — made sure we were all taken care of and all had smiles on their faces, but it hasn’t been an easy few months for their family. Y’all know that Kook has battled cancer for quite a while and we found out not too long ago that Logan is also embarking on her own journey fighting cancer.

Sweet little Logan is now a beautiful teenager. She has had a ton of support and encouragement from school and the Rockmart community as a whole, but that’s still a lot for one family to handle.

Just like her mama, she is facing this with a strength and a positive attitude that astounds me to see. At a time when most kids her age should be thinking about having fun and spending time with their friends, Logan’s got a little more on her plate — but you’d never know it to see her smile. She decided to go ahead and shave her head and seems to be taking on this new challenge with as much grace and quiet strength as Kook did.

I am biased, but when the good Lord was handing out strength and conviction to women he gave those Lott girls a double dose. They face their battles head on and sure ain’t backing down from a fight.

But don’t think, with all this going on, that our gathering was anything but a good time. We had pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, Kook’s famous slaw and Georganna brought a Redneck Caviar that was so packed with flavor that I made sure to squirrel away some in an old butter container and take it home to enjoy later.

When the weather got a little better we sat outside in a big circle and told stories and laughed and just got caught up. I know technology allows us to talk and text any time we want but there’s no substitute for sitting around with the people you love and seeing them smile.

Julie tells the funniest stories, which are balanced by Barton’s sobering facts and figures, of which he has plenty. David throws in a witty comment here and there while Kook and Neeve accuse each other of various offenses. All the while we’re talking, a dog or cat may come up and investigate the gathering, since it’s not in Kook’s power to see an animal in need and not give it a home.

And although there are lots of wonderful places to be in the world, at that moment there was nowhere else I wanted to be than on Hutchins Mountain Road in Rockmart. Because that’s where people love me and where people feed me, and in my mind the two are one in the same.

I left Kook’s house with SEVERAL containers of food, not the least of which was Georganna’s Redneck Caviar. I have never left Neeve’s or Kook’s house without them offering to send me home with at least two additional meals worth of leftovers.

I hear from readers all the time asking after my family. They ask about Zoodie and about Kook and about Cousin Pam and about Pawpaw’s house in Esom Hill. I think most folks can relate to us and that’s why they like hearing about our get-togethers. We aren’t perfect and we sure do have our ups and downs. We fight sometimes and we laugh sometimes and lord knows we cry sometimes.

We got our crazies and we got our loud-mouths. We got our peacemakers and caretakers, our anti-socials and we got our overly-politicals. We got our sarcastics and our thinned-skins and we got an abundance of smart-mouths. But so does every other family.

If you’re reading this, I hope you get to spend time very soon with the people who love you and who send you home with leftovers.

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.

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