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When a friend moves away


(From left) Ann Morgan, Donna Barton, Mandi King, Bev Roberts and Yvonne Boothe at a Kentucky Derby Party.

I’ve known Mandi King for a long time, but I can’t remember exactly how we first became friends. Maybe it was when she took me out to lunch for my 50th birthday. That was in 2007, the same year she teamed up with her friends Bev Roberts and Ann Morgan to host their first Kentucky Derby Party (where big poofy hats were “mandi-tory.”) The Derby party, with its Kentucky ham biscuits and delightful mint juleps, was a tradition that would span the next 12 years.

Mandi’s big on traditions. Every Christmas after midnight mass, she’d have us Catholics over for breakfast. I’ve got plenty of warm, fuzzy memories of gathering around her dining table, feasting on scrambled eggs and bacon at 2 o’clock in the morning. And we never let a New Year’s Day pass without getting together for some collard greens and black-eyed peas. Good times.