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Mar 09 2017

On the mountain

Angel’s Rest, Pearisburg, Virginia

You can’t own a mountain any more than you can own an ocean or a piece of the sky. You hold it in trust. You live on it, you take life from it, and once you’re dead, you rest in it.

Zebulon “Grandpa” Walton

American actor, Will Geer, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Grandpa Walton on the popular television series, was born on this day in 1902 (died 1978).

I grew up in the mountains. My family home rests at the foot of the mountain pictured. It is Pearis mountain, more commonly known as Angel’s Rest.

Around the mountain to the right of the picture you will find “Fletcher Mountain.”

Yes, that’s my family, and no, neither the Waltons nor the Hamners had anything on us. There’s a Fletcher Cemetery where my great grandparents and some great uncles are buried.

In case you’re confused, this is my father’s side of the family. This is not grandfather whose diary I am developing into a stage play. That’s on my mother’s side.

There’s a lot of story on both sides. A lot of military service. A lot of amazing people.

Being among the youngest children of the youngest children in my parent’s generation I missed a lot of family stories. There are vague memories of people visiting, most notably around the time of family funerals. That seems to be when all the best stories are told.

I sometimes remember listening to the old folks telling stories. But it’s difficult to remember the stories some fifty years later.

Then I find myself wishing that, as an adult, I’d listened more closely and asked more questions.

In the script that I’m writing (you’re following the correct side of the family, yes?), there are gaps, there are questions. My mother has been able to fill in some of the details, but when you consider that my grandfather died nearly seventy years ago, well, details are hard to remember.

That’s compounded by a couple of fires over the years that destroyed military records that could potentially have told me more about my grandfather’s military service.

Instead, I’m left with the questions he didn’t answer in his diary, or that my aunt didn’t answer in her family history.

What I have to do then is extract the salient points and from that tell the story.

I’ve been researching World War I and, as I’ve noted recently, there’s a lot more information than what I can, or should, put into one script for a 2-hour(ish) performance.

That’s the current mountain that I’m on. I’m learning from it. Taking from it. And trying to make something beautiful and inspiring from it.

I’ve got quite a mountain to climb.

What difficult mountain are you climbing? What project are you working on that gives you some, but not complete information? What mountain or hill or valley is inspiring you?

Whatever it is, keep going.

It’s not time to rest yet.


On a side note, when writing this I realized that the last time I posted this video was when I wrote of my stepfather’s passing.

There were stories told that week as well. It’s just that this time I was among the old folks telling them.

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1 comment

  1. Beth Dunnavant

    I love this.

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