between Hwy. 90 and Hwy. 59
Sugar Land, Texas
January 2004–There’s a place, not too far from here, where my mother grew up. It used to be out in the country, but not quite anymore. Subdivisions have built up around it. Times have changed it, children have grown up, and lives have passed on. This place is known to the older generation as Thompson’s Chapel, after the church up the road from where my mother lived. The church recently celebrated its 123rd anniversary. The younger folks know it just as Sugar Land. Even though it’s not quite out in the country anymore, everyone calls it “the country”. So when you say you’re going to The Country, everyone in my family knows what you’re talking about.
When you first arrive in the area, no matter which way you come from, you’ll see a small white church called Thompson’s Chapel. You drive a little farther and you’ll see a small, now white, house with a screened-in porch where my Aunt Lillie (my mother’s sister) and Uncle Ronnie live. This is the same house where my mother grew up. There has been a little more room added to it since my aunt and uncle moved in. My mother is one of fourteen children, around the sixth to be born. She has eight sisters and five brothers. In the yard there are some Pecan trees that have been there for a very long time. Next door to my Aunt Lillie and Uncle Ronnie’s house on Lee Lane is, or was, my Aunt Ollie’s house, her two sons stay there now. She died of breast cancer maybe six or seven years ago.
Keeping straight Thompson’s Chapel Rd. and not turning onto Lee Lane, you’ll see my Uncle Harold and Aunt Shirley’s house. My aunt and uncle are caterers, and my Uncle Harold custom makes barbeque pits from scratch. I don’t think he welds anymore though. At the corner, before you make the left for the cemetery on McVey Lane, there is a gold and maroon trimmed house. In the front yard sits a wooden rocking bench with an engraving on it that says: “We love you granny”. My Aunt Jean lives there. If you turn left (really you have to turn left, there’s no place else for you to go) at the end of the street onto McVey Lane, you’ll reach the cemetery-the end of a dead end. My grandparents, two of my three deceased aunts, and a cousin are buried there. When you arrive to “Thompson’s Chapel”, you some how get the feeling you’ve arrived home, a place where you can let go and be yourself because everyone, and I mean everyone, is family. Thompson’s Chapel has been surrounded by modernity yet it still has this feeling of country and the past, that you’ve come and escaped it (the city or whatever) all. It’s kind of like a haven, where you can go and forget whatever you’re frustrated with, ‘cause you feel like you’re away from it all, like you’re in a small special place inside yourself. The Country makes it seem like everything is blocked off, kept out (even though there’s a Randall’s across the way) and you’ve come to a place unchanged, familiar.