I am not being sarcastic or amusing in the least when I say I am grieving. My eyes are a little moist as I replay the famous speeches that have come to represent so much of who I am. I can't say I've given such passionate speeches (of course those on the receiving end may say differently). I would never say I was completely a Julia Sugarbaker. I believe most of us "Steel Magnolias" would say we were at best a combination of the four ladies of Designing Women.
But as Dixie Carter passed away this past Saturday, after a vicious battle with cancer, I am saddened. I felt a kindred spirit with her for being called "Dixie". They say, there's something in a name. When you hear the name Dixie, whether its a German Shepherd (honestly, I don't think a small dog with a yappy bark could live up to the name. If you have a yorkie or shnauzer named Dixie, please don't tell me about it, just go change it now), a bag of sugar, or a location, you know what to expect. You've encountered something or someone who has a colorful heritage, a stately yet genteel carriage, who has generally been through a battle or two, and yet has survived stronger than ever and when necessry, will let you know about it!
Which is why I am proud to be named Dixie. My Paternal Grandmother's maiden name was Dix. She was born and raised somewhere in South Ga where the Dix name is still something to be proud of. Despite the ridicule, due to a narrow-minded, overly offensive, sex-centered media the Dix name in parts of South Georgia represent loyal, hard-workers and people who have indeed fought and won their own personal battles.
Therefore, my mother, the good woman who believed in "family" names placed Dixie at the beginning, Leanne in the middle and somehow decided I would be called by the latter. In school when the teacher mistakenly called for "Dixie" the children would laugh. I would proudly raise my hand and sometimes I would correct her, sometimes I didn't. The boy next to me who went by Christoper but whose first name was "Francis", didn't have it so lucky.
Although they laughed, the children waited until recess when they would come say "I didn't know your name was Dixie! That's cool. Can we call you Dixie?" And they always did, at least for a few weeks. I wanted to call my daughter Dixie. I knew she would live up to the name. And as I've already shared, she does. Its not her name, but it is definitely her spirit. I now have a precious namesake niece. She is only two, but she lives out that Dixie spirit with every fiber (Careful, Mom!)
Today, I have a small group of friends that call me Dixie (or even Miss Dixie, which makes me almost spill my mint julep down the front of my dress!) I was overwhelmed with joy when my nieces and nephews started calling me "Aunt Dixie." If I'm ever published, excuse me, when I am published, look for Dixie Branch on the cover.
Mrs. Dixie Carter, you fought a good fight. You lived a life well. Thank you for the stamp on my life.
I'm closing with two clips. They are funny, yet they touch me deeply because down here, we mask our feelings and the truth with lots of humor (actually that's true anywhere, I bet). If you've only got time for a short clip, watch the 2nd, you won't be sorry. If you can stay for three minutes, watch them both.