Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Death - Joe, Jean, Joyce

Over the past few days I've lost 3 loved ones, all who have impacted my life in different and powerful ways.

First, Joe Wilson. Joe had a profound impact on the folklore and national heritage world. He preserved, and then presented, the music of the folk, particularly Appalachian music. Joe was a folklorist, a musician, an advocate for folk arts, and a very dynamic man. In the few times I had the opportunity to be around this man I was either laughing, intensely listening, or shaking my head at the phrases he would come up with - all a part of his rich life, for which he didn't apologize. He didn't stop, even when kidney failure got the best of him.He did what he loved, loved what he did, and changed my world. He was a man of brutal honesty and passion. He passed away on May 18, 2015.

Musician Jean Ritchie died on June 2, 2015. Ritchie was often called "the voice of the Appalachians." She will be remembered for her mountain dulcimer revival and her honest mountain voice. After taking a few professional voice lessons, her father asked her if she was sick, because her voice didn't sound well. She quit those lessons and sang with her authentic voice. Her preservation of folk tunes, her performing, and her recording of these tunes, will have an impact on this country for years to come. she also played a role in the establishment of the National Endowments for the Arts.While I never heard her live, I have a mountain dulcimer, made from walnut, in Mississippi, from a gentleman who made a few of Ritchie's dulcimers. I don't play it, but I own it, and I appreciate the music, and think of Ritchie whenever I hear this instrument. I love this song, Barbara/Barbry Allen. 

My aunt, Joyce Noma Marriott, passed away on June 2, 2015. Aunt Joyce was my Jr. High School English teacher. She was dark-haired, petite, bold, a tiny bit scary, and not afraid of anything. Or at least that is how I'll remember her. In Jr. High I made the mistake one day of raising my hand and saying, "Aunt Joyce . . . " and her reply - "In this class I am Mrs. Marriott." She didn't embarrass me or herself, but pointed out there was a difference between her roles in my life. I liked that - a person could wear two hats.
Mrs. Marriott taught me how to diagram sentences, love the sound of language, and she was so proud of me becoming a folklorist and English professor. Aunt Joyce taught me how to reach out to others, be involved in the community, and pray, in tandem, that God could hear two voices at the same time. She and my Uncle George prayed together at my parent's home one morning, and while Uncle George gave the prayer, Aunt Joyce added, and the prayer was cute, touching, and I felt the Spirit there as they prayed together.

I will miss Aunt Joyce; I will miss Joe Wilson; I will miss Jean Ritchie. Yet they live on in the lives of those they interacted with - close by and far away. Isn't that beautiful - reincarnation at its essence - we live on because we interact, we share, we teach, we touch.

Will the Circle Be Unbroken - 

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