What knocks me out is the way “ordinary” people figure things out.
Like the night my mom armed us kids with tennis rackets, brooms, oven mitts and catcher’s masks because my baby sister said there was a “bird” in her bedroom. The bird was a bat. Mom didn’t have a playbook on Bats in Bedrooms. None of us does. She just figured it out.
The piece you see here–that’s some of her rug-hooking. She hand-dyed the threads in buckets using wool from my dad’s old suits. The subject? Always for her it was home. This is a picture of our little town nestled right under the highest point east of the Mississippi, Mount Mitchell. Below it you see the features of the town that mattered to her: the church conference center, the church, our house, the post office with its flag and the stone gate through which our single road wandered its way in and up the cove.
My dad could think on his feet too. Here’s a story: as an eye doctor, he was honor-bound to tell the truth. So what was he to say to a patient with multiple personalities when she complained that the glasses he’d prescribed for Betty didn’t work for Susie? Or Anne? Or Esmerelda?
Okay, there was no Esmerelda, but you catch my drift. Dad had to figure it out. He began with the truth. He told Betty that she and her “sisters” all shared the same eyeball, therefore, the same prescription. But — but, he said — he completely understood each “sister’s” desire to have her own pair of glasses. Why not assign different frames for different people? Use a color code? Betty could have the blue pair, Susie the pink and so on. Dad was happy to pick up the tab. Betty was just plain happy.
Are people not wonderfully surprising? Those are the kinds of stories that inspired Going to Solace. It’s a novel to be sure. None of these characters is based closely on my own life. But their resourcefulness is familiar to me. Their unheralded heroism is evident in so many people I’ve known. Their foolishness too. It’s that combo that I wanted to explore and celebrate in these pages. I love these characters. I hope you’ll feel the same.