So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Sunday, September 25, 2022


Today we had our first cool fall weather. Although I am not presently in the mountains where I live, I know the leaves are beginning to change and the cool crisp mornings are happening.

Soon it will be time for the John C. Campbell Fall Festival in Brasstown, NC about a twenty-minute drive from my house.

Even before Barry and I moved to the southern Appalachians, we attended many festivals each fall. My favorite was the Fall Festival at the Folk School. 

My brothers, my sister, Gay, and their spouses came each year from Atlanta and south Georgia. Ray and Gail, Max and Salita, Rex and Nancy drove up from Albany, GA and Gay and Stu came from the Atlanta area. What glorious times we had together. We sat on my deck which is in the tree tops and enjoyed the view of Brasstown Bald across Lake Chatuge in Georgia. But on Saturday we drove to the folk school for the festival. 

Two stages were set up on the campus and music was played all day Saturday and Sunday. We all loved music, especially old country songs, folk songs and familiar gospel music we heard growing up in small country churches in rural southwest Georgia. My brothers had the best time listening to entertainers. We heard family bands with young kids playing banjoes and guitars. We heard husband and wife duos with harmony so sweet you didn't want them to stop singing.  

One of our favorite groups Butternut Creek and Friends was composed of an English professor and writer, Steven Harvey, along with three other singers. We loved their music and bought all their CDs which my family played all the way back to Georgia.

The festival offered food and still does, such as barbeque and iced tea, funnel cakes along with hot dogs and burgers. Food tents for snacks and various kinds of treats are always popular. But my folks attended the festival for the music. 

Since folk dancing is a big part of the curriculum at the folk school, the large stage at the Festival Barn was the perfect place to watch the dancers in costumes perform as well as catch the clogging by several local teams of dancers. Bluegrass music is preferred for clogging. 

At the end of the day on Saturday, my family group headed to a restaurant in Hiawassee, GA just across the state line and on the south end of Lake Chatuge. We required a long table where we could discuss the groups we had heard that day and listen to my brother tell some of his tales that always made us laugh out loud. My heart swelled with love for my family and I was extremely happy that they had come to visit me in my new home in the mountains. These visits continued for several years until Ray was diagnosed with cancer. 

He only made one more trip with the family. He seemed to really enjoy it, but he was weak and making a large effort to hang in there. A sadness hung over us like a heavy rain cloud. He lived three years after his diagnosis and came to see me alone twice during that time. 

In following years, we still gathered once a year at my house, usually for the Festival on the Square in Hayesville but we all missed Ray.

Tonight I clicked on the website for the folk school and saw the article about this year's Fall Festival. It will be a celebration of the ending of the pandemic shadow that fell over everything for the past two years. While COVID is still with us, people will feel safer going to the festival now. 

If I could go back in time, I would dearly love to attend the festival again with my brothers. But they are all gone now. I will just go back in my memories. 

Fall Festival 2022
We invite you to celebrate Appalachian heritage at our 46th Fall Festival, featuring a wide variety of craftspeople, continuous live music and dance, craft demonstrations, good food, and much more! Saturday & Sunday, October 1 & 2, 2022 10 a.m. to 5 p.m..


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

"Its been a good life, not a high life, but it is my life."

Today I met two people I have known for several years but had never seen face to face. Their names are Linda and Bob and they are co-pastors for the Hayesville Presbyterian Church. Barry and I joined that small church when we first moved to this little town in 1996. The building and the church have quite a history going back to the 1800s and I think it was the first church in this county.

I have not attended church since Barry died and especially since the pandemic began. With my chemical sensitivities, churches filled with perfumes, flowers, and chemical products trigger respiratory problems, even asthma for me. But I am still a member of that church and Bob and Linda keep a close watch over me. I have received poems and cards from Linda when she knows I am not doing well or just to brighten my days. 

I am sure Bob calls all of his small flock and especially those who are not well. It is comforting to know someone cares and I welcome hearing his voice. 

Today was especially comforting because I met Bob and Linda at the church, just the three of us. Linda knits prayer shawls for anyone who is going into the hospital or needs special comfort. Because they know I am going through some medical issues and will likely be going to the hospital before long, Linda wanted me to have a prayer shawl. 

Glenda in the prayer shawl

I was excited to meet both of these caring and authentic people I have talked to and emailed with for years now. They are just as lovely in person as I knew they would be. We talked for an hour and they presented me with the shawl, wrapping it around me while Linda read a prayer. 

I was so deeply touched that I began to weep. That surprised me. I will take the shawl with me when I have to go to the hospital and stay overnight, but I will also have it with me at home when I need some extra assurance that I will be fine. 
I have the most wonderful memories of my time at HPC when Barry was alive. He was a one-man welcoming committee and because of him, many people joined the church. He loved singing in the choir and eventually became the choir director. We made good friends there and I miss those times. Part of the reason I don't go back to church is I can't deal with the emotions I feel, the memories of Barry, and the happy times we had there. I would probably cry all through the sermon. 

Even though HPC is very small and most of the members are older, it plays a big part in the lives of those who attend and hear the sermons by Linda and Bob and know that their church family loves and cares for them.

COVID disrupted the church as it did many things over the past two years. 
Some people didn't want to wear masks or social distance. They were virus deniers. In my thinking, they didn't care about protecting others who might actually die if they caught this disease. I am proud of the session and the pastors who are doing all they can to keep those older people safe. With another surge of the virus in this area, I was told by my doctor's assistant that I should wear a mask anytime I was out in public, and even today Linda, Bob, and I wore masks.

Isn't life interesting? Each day brings possibilities that can change us or make us think and be grateful. Tonight I am very grateful that I finally met my friends, Linda and Bob. I am so thankful for the beautiful, soft shawl that I will cherish and use again and again and I will always be grateful for the little Presbyterian church that made us feel welcome in the community and gave us the opportunity to make dear friends.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Thanksgiving is over, but good memories will linger.

Dave the chef, Lee, cook and hostess, Gay who cooks and helps me, Mary who made delightful desserts and Lyn who has always been so dear and so good to me, especially after Barry's death.
Both Lee and Lyn, my sister June's daughters, are in Real Estate. Dave is a young retiree and so is Mary. I enjoyed hugging them all on Thanksgiving. Missing in the photo are Lee and Dave's son, Will, and his girlfriend, Abbie. They were present, but not available for the photo.

Three I love: Lee, Gay and Lyn.  

Lee and Dave had a table loaded with so much food. Sadly, we tried to eat it all, but still had leftovers to take home. Tonight, I ate a turkey sandwich sent to me from the home of Stu's brother, Doug and his wife, Mary. Stu was in Chicago for Thanksgiving day to be with his brother. 

As usual, we told stories and laughed our heads off. With a pandemic still ongoing, and memories of 2020 hanging heavy over all of us, it was fabulous to be with loved ones, to hug them, and know they were doing all possible to be sure each of us was safe. 

Well, I think there is some banana pudding left in the fridge. I had better go see about that. Gay uses Mothers' recipe and it turns out beautiful to see and delicious to eat. 

If you are shopping for Christmas gifts, don't forget books. They make wonderful gifts.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Why We Should Not Isolate Ourselves

I follow Maria Shriver, a writer and activist for women and for Alzheimer's Disease.  I relate to almost everything she says and does.

In her Sunday Papers today, she says, "Over the years, I’ve learned that a meaningful life is one steeped in purpose. It’s also one grounded in relationships with family, friends, a higher power and community. Yes, you may face failure and hardship and pain along the way, but be brave enough to keep dreaming of new adventures and climbing new mountains. And, also be sure to bring people you love along with you on the journey.

Connection is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other on this path of life. So, don’t hesitate to ask for it or offer it to someone else."

Like my mother, I am a people person. Being with others improves my mood, gives me a high that lasts all day. That is why it is hard for me, at this time, as I deal with my personal problems, to cancel my writing classes, be unable to attend classes for which I registered and paid fees, and to take part in other events I would love to be a part of. I find myself feeling down with little to look forward to right now.

This experience has been a teaching moment for me. I think of the older people in nursing homes, or who are alone in their own homes. Isolation is devastating and relationships with family, friends, and community is necessary for individuals to be healthy, both mentally and physically.

In Assisted Living Centers, the residents are encouraged to take part in activities with others, to attend musical events and to eat together. Sadly, those don't usually involve friends and family, but strangers with whom the residents don't relate or feel comfortable sharing emotional events. They enjoy having their family and friends visit and eat with them or take them out to lunch.

Even my father, who was not considered a people person, found that he was lonely in his old age when family was too busy to come and spend time with him. His wife, my mother, had lost her short term memory from brain hemorrhage, and was not company for him anymore. His own experiences each day were limited. He had hung up the keys to his truck. His time was spent mostly in his garden and with his dog.

The housekeeper, whom he had opposed vehemently, became his best friend. She made his breakfast and lunch. After my mother died, Daddy sat with Barbara and talked. He poured out his thoughts and feelings on everything, much like some women do with their hair dresser. Barbara came every day of the week and my father could depend on her to listen to him and to do small chores for him that he could no longer do for himself. She became so important to him in his later years that he ordered his sons to be sure Barbara was given land on which to build herself a house after he died. I think that gift expressed the loudest message he could have sent.

Some people choose to live alone and reach out to others with telephone and e-mail. One of my friends and a regular reader of my blogs enjoys her solitude, she says, but she stays in touch with her family and others, sharing opinions on politics, photos of her grandchildren, and even her creative writing.

Mother, before she became ill, was lonely after her children married. She wrote letters to all of us when we were away and to her sisters in Florida. She also kept up a relationship with my father's family through letters to his sisters and her nieces. Their love for her is obvious from the letters she saved.

"Yes, you may face failure and hardship and pain along the way, but be brave enough to keep dreaming of new adventures and climbing new mountains." 

I have always been able to keep dreaming and trying new adventures and I'm sure I will now. We all face failures and hardship. We certainly face pain of all kinds.

I am at the place where I must give up some projects, try new projects, and think about my health first. I know you, my readers, have likely been to this point. I find it difficult to make important decisions without input from someone I trust. I need to bounce my options off someone who can be objective. I am fortunate to have close family and dear friends I can turn to most of the time. Like other women who have lost their husbands, I miss that partnership. I miss having someone to share the big decisions. Should I sell my house, move, and if I move, where? No one can tell me what to do. No one can make my decisions for me, and I would not want anyone making my decisions. Too many times, adult children insist their parents move near them because it is easier on the children but the parents find they are more alone because their children go on with their busy lives. The parents have no friends in the new place.

So, I will do the same thing I have always done. Make the Pro and Con list. You know, list the reasons why and the reasons why not. The hardest for me is the Limbo phase. That is the time, like now, when I am doing nothing to move on. I tread water and ponder options. Much like my life was after Barry died. What am I going to do in the next act, the third act, as Jane Fonda says?

When I feel blue and in despair, I am told by those who love me that this too shall pass.
"When you are in pain and don't feel well, you always get depressed. But you bounce back and get busy with something you enjoy."
"Just take time to take care of yourself."
"Slow down. Don't try to do so much."

See why I need my friends? They are wise and wonderful. The sun is out and we had a good rain last night. My deck garden has been watered well, and the air is dryer and cooler now. I have much to do before this Sunday is over, so I'd better get busy.

Do your friends and family help you make big decisions?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

One Last Poem for April

Poetry can say so much in a few words. But each word is important and must say more than the language we use every day. By writing poetry, I have learned how to read and understand poems by others in a deeper, more meaningful way. I advise my students who write prose, to read poetry and try to write poetry. Poetry is a way to put forth an idea  or a story in a concise manner, to say something in a few words that leave a lasting impression.

The use of metaphor increases the reader's understanding and draws him deeper into the poem. I learned to use at least one metaphor in every poem I write. 

Our Loss
for my brother, Ray

like threads tightly woven
in a fine tapestry --
fiery reds, cool blues, pale yellows.

like the petals of a rosebud
curving close around each other,
maturing, gently falling
to die upon the ground.

like a clump of grass.
Disturb one blade,
affect all that remain.

You were plucked from us,
and now we don't know
which way to lean
when the winds blow.
            ----Glenda Council Beall