Yesterday I had an email from Melia Edwards telling about the benefit auction at Whitehead Community Center, "tomorrow night." Yesterday was Thursday. Yesterday's tomorrow is today, Friday. When I read Melia's emial, my mind registered Saturday night. This evening at 8, I called the house to ask about it. Joe answered. I asked about the thing tomorrow night. He said, It's tonight. I said, Oh shit. Good-bye.
I changed clothes in a hurry. Good chance to try out new dress pants I've not had on yet. Don't get excited when I say dress pants. It's not like they're anything but permanent press khaki-like cloth. For me, something with a crease is dress pants. Washing machine and dryer and they come out unwrinkled with a crease. Not bad. That's my kind of living. We don't have a dry cleaner here anymore.
I drive down the road with the radio on WBRF Friday nite at the Rex. A bluegrass band with a name I didn't get was playing How Mountain Girls Can Love at about half tempo from Stanley Brothers. On the next tune I paid a little closer attention to the banjo, because it sounded like Jr playing it. The guy played a lot like Jr. Plain and clear, every note in the tune. Jr's band used to play for these auctions. I caught myself with tears going down the road, telling myself to get it together. Don't be getting all teary seeing these people I know through Jr and people I don't know who know me by association with Jr.
I walked in the door and felt at home. Good feeling in the air. Happy looking people. I felt collectively welcome. I spoke with a few people, spoke with Stephen Joines, Judy Carmichael, Melia, saw several, spoke with Gene Hash who is in a rough way. Good old gospel guitar player and singer. Can't play any more. Thinking I need to see Gene and get some pictures of him holding a guitar, because he's a musician of the county, a good one, and everyone respects him. He's in his last perhaps months. I may want to paint him. For certain will want to get a photo and a little bit about his music life on Lucas Pasley's website of Alleghany musicians. I'll get in touch with him one day after the weekend, explain what I have in mind to get him in the registry or whatever it is of Alleghany musicians.
Talked with Jim Winfield earlier today about going with me to MtAiry to see the traveling Smithsonian show at the museum there of American roots music, including mountain music, though not exclusively. It's every kind of American music from all over the country is how I read it. It has a website: http://www,museumonmainstreet.org/. Evidently it's put on by the the NC Humanities Council. The show is NEW HARMONIES, a Smithsonian Institution Exhibition. That means it will be presented beautifully. The show is on til April 24. I expect I'll go more than once. It's the kind of thing Jim will enjoy as much as I do, but entirely for his own reasons as I enjoy it for mine. When it's over we will have seen two different things. When I go, I'll let you know. The show visits 6 NC cities. The website tells about it.
At the Whitehead Community Center, the old Whitehead School house where Jr went to school and was known as a scamp. A prankster he was all his life. I was happy to be in there among Jr's people, now my people. What I noticed the day of his funeral was that Whitehead had shifted its love for Jr to me. It continues. This is why I felt so strongly about being there. I felt like I needed to be there in celebration of my honorary citizenship 5 months ago. I wanted to participate to show that it continues on my end too. At the auction I bought a coupon for $15 at the Chinese restaurant. Next week I intend to get some Chinese and take it to Crystal and Justin's for supper. She's working like a field hand right now in her new photography business and doesn't have time to be fussing in the kitchen, though she does. Also bought a butter pecan cake made by Edith Edwards. I'll have a piece a day until it's gone. Then I'll take the plate back to her. I'm glad I had money in pocket today, which I seldom do.
I felt Jr's presence very strongly in the community center this evening. As various ones saw me, Jr came to their minds, when I saw them, Jr came to my mind. It has seemed ever since Jr's passing that he stays with me as something of a spiritual master who can remind me of the importance of just being who I am and no need for any reason to be ashamed or proud of it, either way. It just is. I remember the first time I heard Jr say that of some conundrum, It just is. No reason to be ashamed or proud of who they are. Everyone friendly together. I feel his presence like he was a spiritual teacher for me when he was here in the body. Now that he has left the body, his presence stays with me reminding me of his ways of seeing things, not as truths to be memorized, but the heart to go into circumstances and experiences with.
I'll always carry with me as a guiding light what he said about believing God put things down in front of him for him to go through. It's the only way he could have made it through the heartbreaks of his life, and it's what made him the light that he was at the end. In this way, his life has been a Pilgrim Way, walking the path put down specifically for him by God. I don't mean light like illuminated like a saint or anything like that. Jr came through all of it whole. Alone, but whole. He's a light for me of someone who was able to take it, whose life was a mastery of taking hard knocks like a log kicking back in his face at the sawmill, getting up, wiping the blood off his face and going back to work.
Sometimes I wondered if he wouldn't get his knee looked at by doctors because the pain kept his mind in the present moment. He'd done lived the past, didn't want to think about it too. It was over. I came to believe the pain focused his mind, was a kind of meditation. I'm seeing that the times I feel Jr's presence is when wisdom I learned from him comes to me in a decision making moment. Wisdom offered as "a fool's advice," I take for the real thing.