by Nicole Crews (photos by Sam Froelich)Nicole_Crews_01

Me: Mother, what am I going to do when you go? I won’t have any material.

Mother: Nicole, you’ve got enough material for a few lifetimes.

It’s hotter than Hades when my mother’s Thomasville neighbor and rock-star florist John Herron rolls up with an overflowing centerpiece of refined rustic flowers, a wreath and eight empty gallon-bottles of mom’s Gallo crammed with wildflowers.

“John that’s perfect. Mother would think that’s hilarious,” I say.

“Do you like the ribbon? It’s Lily Pulitzer,” he asks.

“Mom would say, ‘Lose the ribbon.’”

Maria Salakovich Fangman of Maria’s Catering in Greensboro is on his heels with a truckload of Greek food plated pleasingly on platters. Mother’s caretaker, Tracy Whitley, and I have been Greek-slaving it all week to get the house up to snuff, so the floors are gleaming and the linens are crisp. FrankenBrad have supplied a keg of Sierra Nevada and there’s enough champagne, wine and hootch to float your molars. It’s a garden party, you see, the perfect way to send off my mama whose ashes reside amidst the fray in a beloved Saltine tin. Ladies in hats begin arriving aside men in seersucker and folks from as far away as New York City and Atlanta have made the pilgrimage. I think mama would have been proud.


Frank Slate Brooks and Nicole have known each other since childhood. Their daddies went to Davidson College together, and now they are both members of the Dead Parents Society.

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Matt Obst — aka the Viking — was on hand along with his parents Dottie and Don, who drove in from Hickory for the gathering.

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Tahe Zalal is often confused with an early JoAnn Crews.

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Diedre and Clay Grubb (whose mother was a dear friend and JoAnn’s partner in design) made it from Charlotte.

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Kay Kay Lambeth, whose mother Kay founded Erwin-Lambeth Furniture, and was responsible for bringing JoAnn south from New York, joined in the revelry.

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David Williams, John Whisnant and Todd Garcia trucked it from Greensboro for the Cocktail Wake.

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Beth Alexander, Lori Lovell Bryant, Katrina Lindquest, Janna Myers Grant, Sarah Hubbard, Cindy Everhart Collins, Cindi Osborne McCorquodale and Hillery Rink are all childhood friends.

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