Sunday, October 10, 2010

Back At It

     My life has taken a different turn since I last wrote. My husband, Rocky Rockwell, entered the hospital mid-March and passed away on May 11. I have not felt like doing any storytelling or keeping this blog up to date.

     However, five months later, I'm beginning to feel the urge to get involved again so am planning to do a few events yet this year. I also intend to start posting once again to this blog. I'll begin by saying a few things about Rocky who was a founding member of the Beaver Creek Storytellers.
     I believe Rocky had been a storyteller all of his life. When I met him in 1974, I knew him as a first-rate conversationalist and teller of anecdotes, usually over a restaurant dinner table. On car trips, he would entertain me with tales of his past experiences in school and the newspaper business from which he had retired shortly before we met.
     We moved to Bristol in 1982 when Rocky got a job as a professor at Virginia Intermont College. We had never even heard of the Jonesborough Storytelling Festival until 1987 when friends came to visit; one of them had read something about it in a newspaper. She and I drove to Jonesborough to check it out and in the first tent we visited we heard Donald Davis. We were hooked and excited to share news of this fun activity when we got home and told our husbands.
     Rocky and I started attending the Jonesborough storytelling festival every year. We began to learn about its organization and other storytelling organizations. In 1996 we went to a storytelling event at a Jonesborough restaurant and by the end of that year we had joined lhe Jonesborough Storytellers Guild, a small local group that told stories once a week at the restaurant we had attended.
     Storytelling woke up our creativity and soon we were both writing and telling stories on stage. A year later, Rocky, G. Lee Hearl, and I started the Beaver Creek Storytellers in Bristol. 
     Rocky's passion for the Art of Story continued and he became a member of the Board for the National Storytelling Network and later for the Tennessee Storytelling Association. He was a featured teller for the Corn Island Festival in Lexington, KY; the Blueberry Festival, and the Great Oaks Festival in Mississippi; Sharing The Fire in Boston; and several other festivals and conferences in Tennessee, Virginia, and Alabama. 
     Unfortunately, in 2004 Rocky was diagnosed with lung cancer and although he was cured it left him with severe COPD which, with other health problems that occurred, led to his death this year. With his illness, his passion for story waned, but it was never fully extinguished, and he was always ready to "talk story" when we hosted a visiting storyteller. 
     I'll finish this by telling a little anecdote about Rocky's last month. He was in a nursing home following his hospital stay, and one beautiful day the end of April, he felt good enough to get into a wheelchair and let me push him outside to breathe in some sunshine and fresh air. We discovered a little garden and about 8 people were sitting grouped together in a small pavilion. Some were patients and some were nurses aides.
     I pushed him into an empty spot and then began introducing ourselves and soon I was asking and answering questions. Rocky was clearly enjoying it all, but was not feeling up to talking. However, after a short while he leaned over to me and in a low voice said, "With another couple people, we'd have an audience." 
     That was our last delightful day. 

     Beaver Creek Storytellers will miss Rocky's ability to think clearly to solve problems, to be innovative, and to be a kind critic. Most of all, I believe they will miss his clever stories, all original, many of them humorous, but others touching the heart strings. Favorites were "The Hurricane," "The Last Shot Of the Civil War," "The Long White Shark," "JFK and The Camera," "The Adoption Story," "Jackie Mitchell," and "Old Age." 

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