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Ronda Rich: The two degrees of the South
Ronda Rich
Ronda Rich

When Tink first moved to the place which he now firmly and alternately calls “my home” or “the place where I belong,” I often had advice on adjusting to the South. One piece was constant: “Be careful what you say about people because you never know who’s kin to who.”

This is advice that I would do well to take because people I’ve known for years will turn out to be kin to someone else I’ve known for years and I had no clue. Tink rarely says a bad thing about anyone but I thought I’d tell him, just in case the rare word he said was to the wrong person.

The other day I called the carpet store. We had decided to do some light redecorating — you know you have to start out light because it’s gonna turn major anyway — and we had agreed to put in leopard print carpeting. Tink’s stepmother, Mary, had it on her stairs and we always thought it was stunning. This took me a good two years to decide because I’m a thinker. I turn something over and over in my mind. I look at it from every direction. But when I’ve decided, I’m rarely, if ever, dissatisfied with the result.

I thought I’d have to sell Tink on the idea of exotic carpet but as soon as I mentioned it, he said, “I love it. Let’s do it.”

The first carpet store we walked into, had exactly what we were looking for. Wouldn’t you think that leopard print carpet would be harder to find than that? My thought was that we’d start with the carpet then we’d redecorate the room around the print.

A wonderful woman named Melissa helped us. When Tink excused himself for a conference call, she mentioned, as she prepared the quote, that she told her daughter that she just should always trust in the Lord when making a decision.

Tink finished the business call and returned to find a conversation different from the one he left.

“How did you get on the subject of church from carpet?” he asked as we drove away.

“In the South,” I replied with a wave of my hand, “It is a natural transition.”

A couple of days passed and I learned quickly that Betty and Tom, our painters, and my dear friend, Kim, a genius at window treatments, needed to know exactly the colors and design of the animal print. I called the store to ask for carpet samples.

The gentleman who answered said that Melissa wasn’t available. “May I take a message or, better yet, may I help you with something?”

Music to my ears. “Yes, if you would. Please ask her if I could get a carpet sample.”

“I’ll take care of that for you,” he responded. I told him which carpet, my name and address. He took it all down then said, “We’ve got a connection.”

“Really? What?”

“I grew up near y’all,” he replied then told me where and that his name is Brock. “And I’ll tell you another connection. My son is Grant Pulliam and…”

Because I adore the local newspaper, I knew who he was. “Grant the track star?”

“Yes, and he and Nix are best friends.”

Nix is my niece’s son, who is also a track star. 

“I’ll tell you another thing. My wife is a teacher and she’s good friends with Laurie.”

A member of our extended family.

“Here’s another: she has Aslyn and Bree in class and she loves it,” he continued. “She comes home every night, telling me something they’ve said.”

These are the 10-year-old twins in our family.

We talked for 20 minutes about everything other than carpet. This is the way that Southerners are. When the call ended, I felt good.

Now, I just have to trust in the Lord that I made the right carpet selection.

Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of ‘Let Me Tell You Something.’ Visit to sign up for her free weekly newsletter.