It’s official…I completed my residency and am finished with my year away from home. It’s sooo good to be back home, even though right now I’m surrounded by boxes & unpacking has started to take over my life. But all that time spent elbow-deep in moving boxes has given me time to reflect on my year in the south.  I moved down there to expand my professional knowledge.  To get more experience, improve my skills, and to learn to treat patients the best I can.  But in reality I learned so much more than just about medicine.

I learned all about proper manners.  Now don’t get me wrong…my mama raised me right! She taught me to be kind and polite but being simply polite is nothing like the manners I learned in the South. I learned my yes mam’s and no mam’s, yes sir’s and no sir’s.  I learned to smile and greet every person I pass and to ask how their day is going.  Now that I’m back home the smiling and greeting isn’t received quite as well as it was in Alabama…but it still makes me feel good.

I learned about Bear Bryant, Cam Newton, Toomer’s Corner, and the Crimson Tide (and NO I am not picking a side!!)  I learned just how serious college football can be (& that sometimes you just shouldn’t pick a side)!

I learned to like new foods.  Yup, I learned to love field peas, “Southern” cornbread, barbecue and grits.

I learned all sorts of new catch-phrases to match my new accent.  “Hey ya’ll”  “She’s gonna bless you out” “Just mash this button” “I’m gonna fix me a plate” “Go on and get me a buggy”.

I learned all about good people and how to treat strangers like family. I have always been lucky to have a friendly family and great friends.  I have always been surrounded by a group of people who were kind and caring and wonderful. People who go out of their way to help others and would work all day to help someone else out…but nothing compares to kindness of the people I met in Alabama.  I was new to town, new to the state, out-of-place, and nervous as all heck.  I had up and packed up everything I owned, left my family, left my friends, left my man and moved 500 miles away.  But those people took me in like I was family. They didn’t hesitate or skip a beat. I was invited to family gatherings, holiday meals, picnics, birthday parties, concerts, and family dinners.  And it wasn’t them “just being nice” or inviting me but secretly hoping I wouldn’t come. It was genuine kindness extended to a complete stranger. I don’t even think they realize how rare that really is.  And they will never know just how special they are to me or what kind of impression that has left on me forever. Their love and kindness reached me at a time when I needed it most.

I will miss my new-found Alabama family & I hope they know that I learned much more than a new accent and about football this year. I learned what it means to really be kind, honest, and sweet as tea. I’ll miss ya’ll!