New Friends and Kindred Spirits

Yesterday I had the privilege of presenting Volunteer for Glory to a wonderful group of people at Tanner Springs Assisted Living. Admittedly, I was nervous as I’d only given readings, and being without a script was a challenge. Once there, however, I felt an amazing warmth and kinship with these remarkable individuals.

How do you describe such an atmosphere without resorting to clichés? You can mention the smiles and gentle responses from each person you greeted. You can refer to their polite attention. And you can report their participation, especially when I asked them to share thoughts, opinions, or memories.

One lady had spent time in the South where the Civil War still lives in a collective memory of carpetbaggers and hard times. That brought on a discussion of the bitter aftermath of Reconstruction following Lincoln’s assassination. The South had lost their greatest friend, for Lincoln’s desire had been to “bind up the nation’s wounds.” Then she told us that only about 5 percent of Confederate soldiers were slave owners. The majority of Rebel soldiers were poor farmers without an economic stake in the fortunes of the big plantations. Another resident remarked that some wives followed their men to wash, sew, and cook.

When I mentioned how different life was in the days before computers, cell phones and iPods, a woman seated in the back row shared a childhood memory from the Depression.  “My father farmed using horses,” she said,  “as we couldn’t afford a tractor. But when he’d come in after a day of plowing, I’d run to meet him.  We had two mares, and he would pick me up and set me on the back of the gentlest, the one named Ruth. I was so proud to ride into the barn on that big horse.” I could see her in my mind’s eye; a sweet mite of a girl running to greet her daddy at day’s end. I could also imagine the man in his cotton shirt and overalls, setting his little girl on the massive draft horse to ride like a queen across the barnyard.

A dress and sunbonnet, part of the Civil War era fashions kindly lent by Roxie Matthews, sparked another story. A wonderful lady told of wearing a sunbonnet to work in the fields, day after day, enduring hot sun and backbreaking labor. Scratching out a living in the ’30s required that everyone pull his or her weight.

Several hands rose when I asked if any had seen husbands or brothers go off to World War II. They nodded, knowing what it was like to be left behind while loved ones marched into danger with no assurance of return.

As a bonus, I’ve been invited back to present Wrenn, Egypt House, and the soon-to-be published, Scattered Pieces. One lady has already spoken for a copy of Scattered Pieces as she can relate to the 1940s. But the sweetness of this afternoon was not in the selling and signing of books. It was in meeting extraordinary people and discovering the riches of friendship and wisdom they offer.  I can’t wait to go back!

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Old Memories and New Beginnings

Of the many New Years that have passed, two remain fixed in my memory.  The New Year’s Eve when I looked up into the midnight sky and saw the first snowflakes that would herald the great snow of 1950.  My father scoffed when I ran to say, “It’s snowing!  It’s snowing!”  But I was right.  It was.

The second memory occurred when I was eighteen.  Bridling my beloved horse, Stormy, I rode him to the end of a nearby road ending at a neighbor’s pasture.  As the distant sound of gunfire and celebratory shrieks echoed through the night, we welcomed 1956.  What great things lay ahead, I wondered?  Romance?  Travel?  Art school? Writing a book?

The years have passed, some good and some not so good.  But this is a time to look forward.  The new year recognizes the fulfillment of at least one old ambition. Wrenn, Egypt House, published in 2008, is now available on Kindle through Amazon.com.  Volunteer for Glory is looking for an agent in this 140th year anniversary of the shots fired on Fort Sumter that formally triggered the War Between the States.  And Scattered Pieces, a book set later than either Wrenn or Volunteer, is ready for what I hope is a final edit.

The most immediate “new beginning” brings a January TV interview with Veronica Esagui, writer and publisher of the show, Author’s Forum. We will discuss the writing process, and in particular, Wrenn, Egypt House. The show will air on Comcast cable, either channel 11 or 28.

Other events are already in progress; continued participation in Chrysalis, a writing group for women.  Association in that group has brought new and amazing people into my life; women who are not only talented writers, but who are gifted in diverse fields. I will continue my work in the field of editing.

Gazing into the crystal ball of the future, I see the shadows of things planned but, as usual, the future lies hidden to all but prophets and seers.  May this new decade be one of peace and economic stability.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Buy Wrenn, Egypt House at Amazon.com

Buy Wrenn, Egypt House as an e-book

Published in: on January 1, 2011 at 11:46 am  Comments (2)  
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