I grew up in Chilhowie Virginia, but left when I was 18 and lived my life in Northern Virginia. My husband and I still came back to visit and talked about one day moving back to Southwest Virginia. After my husband was diagnosed with cancer, it seemed like the ideal time. And just like that, the perfect property came on the market. So we bought our farm on Country Lane and moved back to Chilhowie in October of 2020.
The property has a huge barn and from the first moment I saw it, I knew I wanted to have music and invite old and new friends to get together. But Covid had different plans. We tried to have the party in 2021, but Covid was still too strong. Finally on October 22, 2022, we had our first “Gathering.” It was an excellent time with great people and music.
But something was missing. Three of my great friends had passed away last year, Carol Collins, Ron Thomas, and Teresa Grinstead Gore. As I write that sentence now I still can’t believe it. Three people ingrained in my personal mythology: Carol and I smoked our first cigarettes together and nearly burned down a barn, Teresa and I drove over countless mountains ripped and somehow survived, and Ron was my rock that I could call day or night. They were missing. Those people that were a part of your childhood are irreplaceable. My friends passing into another dimension left big holes in my atmosphere to fill. And I find I’m filling these holes with those of us who have survived. We have to take care of each and remind each other where we came from.
So I took photos on October 22. Lots of photos. I want to cherish my friends and document all that I can. Looking through the images of the party, I am reminded there are still a lot of friends left and lots of good times to be had. We have to take care of each other and remember where we came from. Record your life. Prove you were here. Images are soul graffiti; not only proof of your existence, but a chance for you to relive moments that were large and small.