The woods around Mizpah Methodist Church in Bamberg, South Carolina.
My father’s parents accomplished more than I ever dreamed in a lifetime.
People who knew them still talk about their legacies. My oldest cousin posts documents showing my grandfather’s many accomplishments as a student and as a chemist. He worked for a company called Sonoco, and my grandmother was a school teacher. She obtained glasses for children who could not read well during a time when that was almost unheard of.
When people talk about my grandfather, they tell stories of man of Science and faith. At a young age, he drank coffee. In his silent resolute way, he opposed racism during a time when most people let those hatreds burn. In a backyard, he burned a robe and documents symbolizing hate of an era.
My grandparents inspired many emotions in the lives they touched.
I knew I would never compare to them. My older cousins have interpreted his legacy, and succeeded in their careers. Sometimes I think I failed, because he always believed I was bound for greatness. Every grandparents believes that about their grandchildren.
I thought I needed to find a mainstream version of success in a way others of the family have done.
But, that was not my path. My talents were not meant for business or Science, but art and work with children.
After my grandfather’s death, I wanted to write an opus or some great work to honor him and my grandmother so they would never be forgotten.
Soon I realized it was unfair to write about my grandparents exactly as I viewed them. In my eyes, they emulated a kind of perfection.
In 2006, I began writing Sons of the Edisto. The only connection between the main character Owen and my grandfather is that some events and characteristics in his life loosely inspired the book. For example, Owen’s interest in Science shows throughout the book. He lives in the 1920s during a time when new ideas question old concepts.
Scanning the dusty wooden floorboards, Owen spots a worm inching its way under the pew. The thing’s pink head resembles its tail. Owen wonders how many circles are on its body. The circles are easier to count if he picks up the worm. He lifts it to eyelevel. It moves across his palm. The worm’s squirming body feels like moss on an underwater rock. It falls out of his hand, over the board and into Eliza’s lap.
Sons of the Edisto, Chapter 4, p. 44
At the end of August, I began a rest period for Sons of the Edisto. I have worked on it for seven years, and that includes the editing. If you’ve read previous blogs, you know I am sending query letters as time allows. What makes it difficult to let go is I feel I’m saying goodbye to my grandparents again.
I did what I set out to do. I wrote something in honor of my grandparents.
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