I have been talking about my Diamond Jubilee - otherwise known as my 75th birthday, since January - celebrating it at every turn by telling stories or going somewhere that has been important during those years. So when July 14 finally arrived it almost slid by without notice.
Since Jim and I were flying to Charlotte on an early flight next morning for the Toe River Storytelling Festival - there was only time for a small cake with our local family. Daughter Karen explained that they put on only five candles to save me from starting a fire with the whole 75. The cake was delicious and they
included my all-time favorite ice cream - butter pecan.
Next morning Jim and I flew to Charlotte - my home town which felt appropriate - picked up a car and drove to the mountains for the Storytelling Festival.
|Ellouise, Donna Washignton, Sherry Lovett|
Told stories with wonderful storytellers.
Right: me with Donna Washington and Sherry Lovett.
Below - me with Mitch Capel.
I hadn't worked with them before so it was a joy to hear their wonderful stories.
When the invitation came to tell at Toe River I was excited by the timing - 2 days after my birthday - as it put me on hoe ground telling my stories. Sherry Lovett introduced me as"southern, seventy-five and sassy" and folks welcomed me with open arms. I told stories connected to my childhood and the audience loved them.
Spruce Pine isa charming small town in the mountains. People are warm and friendly. Toe River Storytelling Festival is a lovely festival which does not seem as well-known as it should be.
The tent was close to a train track so we had the music of the passing trains often all day. How can you beat that for storytelling atmosphere?
Pat and Jerry drove up from Charlotte "to hear you." What a sweet surprise. Jerry and I have history. He and I met at Piedmont Jr. High School. And graduated from Central High School in the same class. Delightful to share stories and visit.
We had a delightful week-end break from the Fringe - lunch with a medical school classmate of Jim's on the way to Spruce Pine. A stay at The Richmond Inn - the Spruce Pine B and B - a place with personality, delightful people, excellent breakfasts, and a wonderfully warm and welcoming owner.
I recommend it if you are in the area.
Jim and I would be happy to go back.
My Diamond Jubilee has been partly pilgrimmage, partly sentimental journey. It is like gathering scraps for a feeply personal quilt. So I could not come through Charlotte without touching base with a few important places and special memories:
Holy Angels Nursery - founded by the Sisters of Mercy at Sacred Heart in Belmont, NC, a home for "special" babies and children where our daughter Gretchen lived for several years before her death.
Its an important place and another story.
This building was formerly Sacred Heart Academy, Belmont, NC. - a boarding school under the rule of the The Sisters of Mercy - which my grandmother and a few aunts attended - and where my sister Lynda and I boarded during WWII. A number of my childhood stories take place here.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church was on the road to Hickory. We stopped here so that I could water my Irish Catholic roots. Many of my Lonergans are buried in the church yard - among them James Lonergan, my 3-great grandfather - and his father, John, my 4 great grandfather. They came together from Tipperary with all the family in 1837.
These Lonergans are on my list for stories. I have told about them before but not in a very long time and I have some new ideas, learned from Finding Gus about how to put it together differently.
On our way back we had enough time in Charlotte to stop at Elmwood Cemetary to thank my grandfather Gus Keasler for his story.
The week-end was important - a wrapping up and a new beginning - isn't that how it is with pilgrimmages - you start the journey as one person and return as another. So, more will be revealed.