Thursday, August 11, 2011

"...he who waits."

Coach Edelman's homeroom at Piedmont Junior High School  (Janice Wilson far right second row)

It took long enough, but I finally got what I had wished for that first day that I sat down in Coach Edelman's 9th grade homeroom:
Janice (Wilson) Karon

That the beautiful girl sitting in the second row would notice me and maybe even someday invite me over to her house for tea and cobbler.

I'm pleased to report that's exactly what I did this week to celebrate my 75th birthday!

Thanks to this website I was able to re-introduce myself to the now prolific national best selling author Jan Karon. I found that she still has fond memories of many of her Piedmont classmates, particularly Shirley McClanahan and Carolyn Brakefield to name just two.

Jan's family moved from Charlotte after her 9th grade, depriving us from having her as an official member of our CHS class of 54. But, as you know, we voted unanimously to make her an honorary member!

In one of my emails to Jan, I happened to mention that my wife Linda and I would be visiting in her part of Virginia on business....and lo and behold before I knew it, Jan had invited the two of us to drop by her house and say “Hey!”

It was a dream come true for both of us. Linda was a long time fan of Jan's Mitford series of books, even before she learned that Jan and I were once in school together. I broke my long time habit of only reading non fiction books and started reading one of the Mitford books just so I'd know what Linda and Jan's millions of other readers were raving about!

So now, there were TWO big fans about to visit the charming mythical town of Mitford....herself.

That sentence may look a little strange, but it is correct. Mitford exists only in Jan Karon's fertile imagination.

Jan's real life story reads like an imaginary novel itself. At age 50 she gave up a successful career in advertising, sold her big car and other trappings of the “good life”.....and moved to Blowing Rock, NC where she was determined to become what she had always wanted to be; a writer.

As Linda and I drove through the gate and about a hundred and fifty yards up the gravel driveway leading to her Virginia country mansion, which sits on a hill overlooking over 100 acres of land containing at least 10 buildings, the thought occurred to me that maybe I was imagining things.

Jan and Ed

But there at the front door was Jan, who warmly welcomed us to her home as only true Southerners can.
Linda and Jan
It's impossible to describe her house in this limited space, in fact, mere words won't do it justice. It has to be seen to get it's full impact. But basically, it's an historic house, built in 1816 which Jan completely restored to it's original condition; almost exactly the way many of the same workmen who built Monticello had constructed it.

In my opinion, if Jan ever decides to switch careers again, God forbid, she could start out at the top of the ladder in the historical restoration industry.

How she was able to oversee every detail of the four years of restoration and write books at the same time is a tribute to her dedication and determination.

Perhaps as her character in the book At Home in Mitford said,

“The firefly only shines when on the wing, So it is with us--when we stop, we darken."

...which seems to sum up Jan's own philosophy.

Jan Karon

As we finished our delicious home-made cobbler and sweet iced tea, I checked off another item on “little Eddie Myer's” ancient wish list.

What a day!