“Never underestimate the power of kind words” ~ Unknown
We had our fall family gathering today at Uncle Harold and Aunt Phyllis’ farm in Morgan County (that’s Eastern Kentucky for those unfamiliar). Fall’s brisk weather finally swooped in and made the day crisp and overcast. Perfection. We ate hearty foods, drank hot coffee, had our annual hay ride, shared birthday cake for Dad and Aunt Linda, and told ghost stories. In fact, that may have been the most fun of the day, sitting in a room surrounded by the elders telling stories of visitations and haints galore; the fantastic and the believable. There was something very, very different about this gathering from the others we’ve had. I sensed a calm in the air. The bittersweet thirst for those no longer with us while reveling in their memories in unadulterated happiness. Perhaps Cousin Brian was on to something during the hayride. “We are the age our parents were when we went on hayrides,” he said as we sat sandwiched between first and third generation Terrys. It happens to every generation in every family, in slow, often imperceptible ways until one day Cousin Brian sees the culmination of time in a single moment. The realization that the changing of the guard is fully underway. This is just one blessing of this family; to have sustained multiple relationships over decades that can come together and celebrate goodness. To be truly grateful for the gifts in spite of the sadness, to me, is a mark of great faith. That is something this family has in spades.
“Never think that what you have to offer is insignificant.
There will always be someone out there who needs what you have to give.”
2016 has not been a bad year for everyone. It’s been a good year for me despite the truly awful year of loss, and I’m not talking about celebrity deaths, though there were quite a few of them. I’m talking about the loss of family, classmates, co-workers, friends and loved ones. There were so many at times it felt as if I’d fallen into an alternate universe. I know death is to be expected, even more so with age, but 2016 was surreal. There were so many people who died that I made a list just to remember them all, and still I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone. Then, the election happened. After that it was as if a door to a-no-good-very-bad room had opened, sucking everything into the abyss. Aunt Janet broke her hip, dad had a heart attack, mom contracted pneumonia, and now, for New Year’s Eve, dad’s back in the hospital with a stroke (he’s getting better already). And all this is just in my corner of the world. I know a half dozen people far worse off than me. So, yea, it’s been an insane year for death and illness for a lot of people.
It’s not healthy for me to dwell on the sad stuff, so while I was making the list of people who’ve walked on in 2016, I also made a list of all the great things that happened. It was a great year for my art for sure. The first issue of Solidago was published. I was honored to provide the cover of Appalachian Heritage’s fall issue. I had images published in the Bible Belt Almanac with Catherine Brereton’s story. I was the first featured artist in Heartwood Lit Magazine. I had a piece in KAC’s “This is 50” exhibit at KY Crafted. I did From Cane Ridge to Cathedral Basilica art talk with Lori-Lyn Hurley at ArtsPlace. I set up – and actually sold work at – my first art fairs; Market in the Park and Pickin’ in the Park. I had the opportunity to photograph some incredible sacred moments at Furnace Mountain Buddhist Retreat, Cane Ridge Meeting House, and the baptisms of my mom, Aunt Janet, and Darrell Conley. To cap it off, this post will complete the fifth year of the outhouse. So much for a year-long project, eh? In many ways it was a pivotal year for my creative side, and I think it was no coincidence that it came at the same time I was surrounded by turmoil. Art has kept me sane, given me perspective, and helped me understand myself and my place in the world.
Art wasn’t the only goodness to come my way this year. I received the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Performance at work, and I pulled off an excellent international IFLA conference that will pay dividends long into my career’s future, at home and abroad. I got to spend time with dear friends Callie and Eric whom I hadn’t seen in 30 years. I met Robert Treadway, Kyle Macy, Kathleen Robinson, Cindy Reed, and Ceci Virtue, all of whom I believe will be friends long into the future. William LeMaster and Marlon Hurst got married, but not to each other. They married great women instead – Leah and Kathi – and I just couldn’t be happier for them. Tammy Jo O’Neal, Pam Kingfisher, Greg Gross, Barbara Plested and Gary and Pam Thurman came to visit this year. I loved every moment with them. I had the chance to visit Oklahoma and hang out with BFF Angie Bliss Fanning, Ellen Fagala, The Rickey’s, and so many others of my chosen family. I had the chance to go to California for the first time in decades, too. How I love it there. I got to meet Esta Day’s new baby, and Lisa Bick delivered baby Apricot (that’s not her real name but that’s what I call her), and Ashley and Taylor brought home their little bundle, Lucille. Babies are good for the soul. Stacy gave me a Lexus for Christmas. It uses AA batteries and a remote control, but still, it’s a Lexus. David Bowie, Paul Simon, and Sting made some of their best music this year proving you’re never too old to make great music: inspiring. And Wally finally got his fence, thanks be to God! All of these things were great and wonderful events in my life.
Not to be overlooked are the little things in everyday existence that really make life worth living. Like my co-workers, my friends, the nice people I run into here and there, Stacy, Judy, Robin, Marcie, Larry Scott, Ronnie, Jodi, Crystal, Marie, Annie, Deb, Erin, Terry, Marlon, the list goes on. But nothing this year has been greater than getting another year with my parents. They are true blessings and I am grateful for them, and to them. So, here’s to a fabulous 2017. May we all be blessed along the way.
(Mom and dad with Tony Adkins, Aunt Charlene, Aunt Linda Gail, and Uncle Phillip with Aunt Lois Nell behind the camera)
Classmates: Leona Lewis, Charlie Osborne, Norma Kidd, Welma Trimble.
Family: Great-Uncle IB Terry, Uncle Roger Vest, Uncle James Trent Terry
Loved ones: Paul Yelton, Allen Smith, Thelma Howell, dad’s little dog Crackerjack
Acquaintances: Ben McLain, Michael Maxey, Matt Burke, Danny Owen
Hometown loved ones: Dr. William Holbrook, Quincy Stegall, Junior Benton, Peanut Benton, Gary Holbrook, Justine Gevedon, Gigger Nipper, Mary Lou Sheets, Jose Cordero, Darrell Nickell, Grover Frederick, Eva Cox, Bea Robinson, Joe Wells
Musicians, writers, actors, comedians, astronauts, sports-folk, politicians: David Bowie (Jan 10), Alan Rickman, Dan Haggerty, Glenn Frey, Abe Vigoda, Paul Kantner, Maurice White, Vanity, Antonin Scalia, Harper Lee, Umberto Eco, George Kennedy, Joey Feek, Pat Conroy, Nancy Reagan, George Martin, Keith Emerson, Frank Sinatra Jr., Joe Garagiola, Georgia Davis Powers, Garry Shandling, Patty Duke, Merle Haggard, Doris Roberts, Prince, Guy Clark, Morley Safer, Muhammed Ali, Ralph Stanley, Bernie Worrell, Scotty Moore, Pat Summitt, Elie Weisel, Garry Marshall, Kenny Baker (R2D2), Gene Wilder, Edward Albee, Arnold Palmer, Shimon Peres, Boutrous Boutrous-Ghali, Janet Reno, Charmain Carr, Leonard Cohen, Robert Vaughan, Leon Russell, Gwen Ifell, Bernard Fox (Dr. Bombay) Holly Dunn, Sharon Jones, Florence Henderson, Fidel Castro, Ron Glass, Greg Lake, John Glenn, E.R. Braithwaite (To Sir with Love), Alan Thicke, Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Michael, Richard Adams (Watership Down), Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, William Christopher (Father Mulcahy) (Dec. 31)
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
~ Julian of Norwich
Now that dad is older he likes to plant a vegetable or two. When he was young, the garden fed the family. When they had a garden that is. The earliest years were spent in coal camps without much food at all, let alone a garden. Dad was the second of 14 children. His brother, Phillip (below), was the forth. They both made their way out of the mountains in the army. Dad served 10 years in Special Forces. Phillip served until he retired. They’re both extraordinary men; helpers to friends and family; dedicated to God and country; and married to equally extraordinary women. Uncle Phillip and Aunt Linda stopped by the hospital while Dad and I were visiting with mom today. They’re always such a joy. I’m lucky to have such a big, compassionate family, with a dad that can grow a little garden when he wants to.