October, 2014

Independence and Mouth-of-Wilson, Virginia, twenty years after the last of my People died out…

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

To say I was speechless, lost in what used to be familiar territory over 20 years ago, doesn’t come close to the disconnect my heart experienced during my recent visit to Independence, Virginia, from my memories, from my childhood, from the California romantic writing vision I had of the town of Independence, where my father practiced law for over 50 years until he died in 1989.

It was the poverty that first struck me. And struck me again. And again. Nothing but poverty, no end in sight.

Independence used to be a thriving town. I was born in 1955 in Galax, Virginia, a short drive from Independence. I lived with my father, 45, and my mother, 20, and our maid, Nanny Katharine, in a house in Mouth-of-Wilson, Virginia, a short drive from Independence where Dad’s office was. Our house was on the New River. When I was 3 years, 3 months and 5 days old, my mother gave birth to my sister, Susan. My father lifting me up to look at her through the glass partition in the nursery is my first memory. I had a pony. We were rich. Pictures of my mother in furs, my father beautifully dressed, debonair.

i am hobbled by tears
by the passing of the years…