Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Empty Tomb

This is part 2 of my story The Empty Tomb. Part 1 is too long to publish as a blog. Part 2 picks up just as the darkness that followed Jesus' crucifixion has lifted. The speaker is Mary Magdalene.
The Empty Tomb - Part 2

copyright Linda Goodman 1995
            After what seemed like hours, the light returned.   I turned to leave, when I saw Joseph of Arimathea approaching.  Because Joseph was a secret follower of Jesus, I pretended not to recognize him.  He approached the cross and carefully began to take Jesus down, prying the nails slowly so as not to further tear His flesh.  Mary, the mother of Joseph, came up to me and whispered in my ear, “He got permission from Pilate to take the body.  He is going to bury our Lord in his own tomb.”
            Joseph wrapped Jesus body in a linen sheet and carried it away.  Mary and I followed him from a distance until we came to a garden, out of the sight of the soldiers.  There Joseph stopped and waited for us to walk alongside him.   His face was soaked with tears as he tried to make sense of all that had happened.   “I cannot believe that Jehovah let him die like this.  Why did he have to suffer the death of a common criminal?”  he asked us.  We had no answers.
            Mary and I watched as Joseph placed Jesus body in a tomb carved out of solid rock.  He rolled a huge stone in front of the opening, and then the three of us knelt in prayer, asking God for understanding.....asking Him to heal our broken hearts.  Then we left to prepare for the Sabbath.
            The Sabbath did not bring me any comfort.  Like Joseph of Arimathea, I could not believe that God had let our savior die.  Why?  I asked myself over and over.  This is cruel.  Who will we follow now?  We will disband.  There will be chaos!  How can this be?
            Then a small voice, so soft that at first I thought I had imagined it, spoke to me from my heart.  “All will be well," it said.  “Trust in the Lord.”  And suddenly I felt the peace that passes understanding come over me.  For the first time in days, I slept.
            The next morning, the first day of the week, before sunrise, Joanna, Martha, and I went to the tomb where Jesus had been buried.   Though He had died a criminal’s death, we wanted Him to have a proper burial, and so we had brought spices and perfumes with which to bathe His body. 
            To our horror, we saw that the stone had been rolled away during the night.  Joanna looked inside and screamed, “He’s gone!  His body has been stolen!”
            All that I could think to do was run.  I ran so fast I felt as though my heart would pound its way outside my chest, but I did not stop until I had reached the upper room.  Peter and John were inside, looking lost and weary from lack of sleep. 
            “They have taken Him!”  I cried.  “They have taken Jesus from the tomb, and we do not know where they have put him!”  Then I fell to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably.  All I had wanted to do was to see that He had a proper burial.  Now Jehovah was denying Him even that.
            Peter and John did not tarry to comfort me.  They cried out in anger before running from the room.  I knew they were going to the tomb to see if I told the truth.  Even though they knew me to be an honest woman, they could not believe that God would allow their Lord’s body to be defiled so.  Perhaps they thought my grief was playing tricks upon my mind.  Slowly I picked myself up off the floor and, forcing one foot in front of the other, I trudged back to the garden. 
            By the time I reached the tomb, the others had gone.  Still sobbing, I forced myself to look inside.  Suddenly, a blinding light enveloped me.  I felt a power surging through my body, a tingling sensation from my head down to my toes.  Confused and frightened, I struggled to see from what source this strangeness emanated.  “Who is there!”  I demanded. 
            In what seemed like a dream, I saw two figures dressed in robes as white as snow.  They were sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and the other at the feet.  “Why are you crying?” they asked in one voice that sounded like the beautiful, pure strains of a heavenly harp. 
            “They have taken my Lord away,” I replied, shuddering.  “I do not know where they have put him.”
            They sat there staring at me as if I were insane.  Unable to bear gazing upon their brilliant essence any longer, I turned to leave, thinking all was lost.  That is when I saw the man who had been standing behind me.  He spoke to me in a calm, unemotional voice, asking, “Woman, why are you crying?  Who is it that you are looking for.”
            At first, I thought that he must be the gardener.  I pulled myself up to my full height and held myself proud.  Who was he to question me?  I would show him who he was dealing with.
            “If you have taken Him away, tell me where you have put him,” I demanded.  “I will go and get him and bring him back where he belongs.”
            And then the man smiled at me....a soft smile that told of kindness and compassion, knowledge and understanding.  Who is this man? I wondered.  I know that smile.  Why is it so strangely comforting?  I looked into His pale blue eyes and saw that they were filled with tears.  “Mary,” He whispered.
            “My Lord!”  I cried, as I realized that this was indeed Jesus himself.  But how could this be?  I had seen him die!  I had seen his stiff and lifeless body placed inside the tomb.  But then, in the twinkling of an eye, I realized that none of this mattered.  My savior was alive!
            I threw myself at his feet and wrapped my arms around his legs.  “Do not hold on to me, Mary,” He said gently.  “I have not yet ascended to my Father.”
            I released him, and he smiled at me...the most beautiful smile I have ever seen.  “Go and tell the others,” He said.  I did not hesitate to do as He bid.
            You know the rest.  Jesus appeared to many in His resurrected body before going up into heaven.  Many have said that it was all a hoax -- that His followers had stolen His body to make it appear that He had been resurrected.  I feel sorry for those who believe that.  The do not know what it means to have a hope that cannot be destroyed.  They do not know the peace that comes from sweet surrender.  They do not know the joyous victory of love that was accomplished that day.
            I never tire of telling my story.  I share it with all who will listen.  And when my journey on earth has ended, I know that I will once again sit at His feet and kiss His wounded hands, rejoicing in His presence for life everlasting.   I testify before you now that that my Savior lives, just as surely as you and I have breath in our bodies.  You know that what I speak is true because I, Mary Magdalene, once among the worst of sinners, was the EMPTY TOMB.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Incident at Walmart

Copyright Linda Goodman 2015

            A cold, drizzling rain made me decide that I did not want to park in the outer Siberia section of the Chester, Virginia Walmart parking lot on that September day in 1999. Normally I chose the exercise of the walk across the long, deep parking lot to the store, but on this day, I just wanted to keep dry. I began looking for a closer space.
            As divine providence (or perhaps luck?) would have it, there was a parking space available beside a van just a few spaces from the store’s front door. In my mind, that parking spot had my name on it. I turned my front wheels to the right to enter the space, but someone else came flying down the parking aisle and skidded into the space before I could get my car into it.
            The lady in the other car rolled down her window and yelled, “I saw it first!”
            “That’s okay,” I responded. “I’m not emotional about it.” I turned back to outer Siberia, burdened with the promise of a bad hair day looming before me.
            Since I was not wearing a coat, the walk to the store was chilly. I needed to shop for only a few things, so I made quick work of it. As I was checking out, I could smell something burning. The front of the store was filled with smoke.
            “What’s wrong?” I asked. “Is there a fire.”
            “Yeah, but it’s outside. You’re okay in here,” the clerk assured me.
            “Do you know what happened?” I wanted more information.
            “Well, see, this van out in the parking lot caught fire,” the clerk replied. “The police and the fire department are out there taking care of it.”
            “Are the cars around it okay?” I wondered.
            “The fire spread to one of the cars next to it,” the clerk told me. “Guess somebody’s having a bad day.”
            As I pushed my grocery cart outdoors, I saw the black hole left by the van. I also saw a black hole in the spot to the van’s right, the space where I had tried to park! I asked one of the policemen if he knew what had happened. He told me that the driver of the van had gone for a ride in his all terrain vehicle and, afterwards, had put the ATV into the back of the van without letting the ATV cool down first.
            “How about the driver of the car?” I asked him. “Is she okay?”
            “Well, she wasn’t in the car when it happened,” he said solemnly.  “So she should be okay. That might change when she actually sees her car.”
            I continued my march to outer Siberia. It was good exercise, and I still had a car. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

“I Feel Kinda Outta Sorts….”

This story was written by my brother Lee, who now lives in Barboursville, WVA. Lee is retired from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and is also a writer and poet. The caricature at the left was done by one of his former co-workers.

© Lee Wright, 16 Jan, 2002

            “Hey Ted,” said Mike as he came into the office. Hearing the Oldie station in the background. Mike knew that Ted was somewhere in the office.
            “Hey Michael,” came the answer from Ted’s area. ”Is it 4 PM yet?”
            “Almost,” replied Mike, smiling.
            That was a running gag around the office. The office contained five employees: Mike, Glynn, Ted, Carolyn, and Steve. Carolyn was the Editor of the Service to the Fleet, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard newspaper. Steve was the supervisor who ran the little “madhouse” of an office. Actually, you could say that Steve was the Head Nut.
            “Hey Mike! Hey Ted!” said Glynn as he made his daily appearance.
            “Hey guys,” said Carolyn as she followed Glynn inside.
            “Hey Carolyn!” came three replies.
            “Anyone seen Steve?” asked Carolyn as she pulled off her coat and hung it up.
            “We’re home alone, at least for half a day.” replied Ted, “Steve left a message on the answering machine saying that he’d be in around lunch.”
            “Did anyone notice that the traffic was backed up more than usual?” asked Carolyn.
            “I did,” replied Glynn, “But it wasn’t as bad as last week.”
            “I know,” answered Ted, “Last week was a bite.”
            “I wonder why it was backed up today?” asked Carolyn, “I thought they had that problem straightened out last week.”
            “Guess you can’t expect every day to be perfect.” said Mike, turning towards his computer. Soon you could hear the keyboard clicking as Mike began his work on a story for the paper.
            Ted looked over at Glynn and saw that he was checking the Virginian-Pilot for the latest news. The Virginian-Pilot was the local newspaper. Ted got up from his desk and went into the back room. He returned carrying a cup of hot coffee. The back room served as a catchall for storage. Also in the back room were four televisions to keep up with any breaking news. The four TVs were hooked up to four VCRs to tape any of that breaking news.
            Ted sat down for a few minutes, got up, and wandered into Carolyn’s cubicle. He watched her as she was getting the shipyard paper ready for distribution. He probably figured that Carolyn needed a break because he interrupted her typing.
            “Do I look ok?”
            “What?” Carolyn asked, looking up.
            “Do I look ok?”
            “Depends on what you mean by “ok,” came a reply from Glynn’s cubicle.
            Ted ignored the remark and carried on. “I don’t feel all that well. I feel kinda out of sorts and light-headed. You know kinda twilight zoney, like I don’t belong here.”
            “You’ve been in the Twilight Zone ever since I’ve known you.” came a
voice from Mike’s cubicle.
            Ted ignored that one also.
            “Maybe you should sit down and finish your coffee.” said Carolyn, “You’ll feel better shortly.”
            “Maybe you’re right, but I felt strange when I came through the door this morning. I just have this odd feeling.” Ted turned away and went back to his cubicle.
            Ted was sitting by his computer, still having those odd feelings. He could hear Carolyn banging away on her keyboard, preparing the paper for distribution.
The rest of the morning was uneventful. At 11 AM Ted got up and went into the back room to watch one of the court shows. Carolyn, Glynn, and Mike, went to Roger Brown’s, one of their favorite placers to eat.
            Around 12:15 Mike, Carolyn, and Glynn returned from lunch.,
            “Hey Ted,” all three said in the direction of the back room. They could hear the TV still going. There was no answer.
            “Ted usually tapes Judge Mathis and The People’s Court. Maybe he’s watching People’s Court and didn’t hear us.” said Mike, “His hearing isn’t that good any more.”
            “I’ll go back there and get his attention.” said Carolyn.  She walked away, but came back soon after. “Hmm,” she sighed, “he wasn’t back there.”
            “Probably in the “library.” said Glynn. The “library” was Ted’s word for the restroom. He usually took whatever book he was reading at the with him when he went in there.
            Everyone returned to their cubicles. Within a few minutes Steve came in. He wasn’t his usual self. His head was down and he seemed dazed. Steve walked slowly into his office.
            “What wrong with Steve?”  asked Glynn.
            “What’s up, Glynn?” asked Carolyn, “What do you mean, what’s wrong with Steve?”  A large partition that surrounded Carolyn’s cubicle prevented her from seeing anyone entering the office.
            Before anyone could answer, Steve came out of his office. A few minutes passed before he could speak.
            “I’ve got something to tell all of you,” Steve said slowly.
            “Shouldn’t we wait until Ted gets here?” asked Mike.
            “What do you mean, wait for Ted?” Steve seemed confused. “Where is he?”
            “As far as we know, he’s in the restroom.” replied Glynn, “Why?”
            “He can’t be in the restroom,” said Steve, “I just came out of there and I was the only one in there… Now, I want you all to sit down. I have some bad news to tell you.”
            Mike, Glynn, and Carolyn pulled their chairs out of their cubicles and looked at Steve.
            “What’s wrong?” they asked in unison.
            “Was th… uh hum,” Steve cleared his throat, “Was the traffic backed up this morning?”
            “Yes it was, why? What’s wrong Steve?” asked Carolyn. Now everyone was concerned about Steve.
            “Do you know wh..what caused the backup?” Steve was having a hard time talking.
            “Just the usual stuff,” replied Mike. “Steve, I think we should wait until Ted
gets here so you won’t have to repeat whatever it is.”
            If looks could kill, Mike would’ve been dead right there. Steve continued. “This morning…..on their way to work together, Ted and his wife Marlene, were involved in a very bad car accident.”
            “Oh My God!” exclaimed Carolyn, “How’s Marlene? Ted didn’t mention anything about an accident this morning.”
            “What are you talking about?” asked Steve gruffly. “Marlene was badly injured and she’s in the hospital. They’re not sure if she’ll make it. Ted was killed instantly.”
            Carolyn felt faint. Mike and Glynn couldn’t believe their ears.
            “It….it can’t be! Ted was here this morning.” said Mike.
            Steve was helping Carolyn to a chair and Glynn was putting some smelling salts under her nose.
            “What are you talking about Mike? What’s wrong with Carolyn?”
            “Steve,” replied Mike, “Ted was here this morning. We all saw and talked to him.”
            “That’s impossible!” exclaimed Steve, “I told you that he was killed instantly.”
            “Steve, Mike, Carolyn, come here.” said Glynn, “I’ve got something to show you.”

            All four gathered at Ted’s cubicle. On Ted’s computer screen there was a small note, “This workstation is in use and has been locked. The workstation can only be unlocked by Teddy L. Wright.” Glynn then pointed towards Ted’s desk. There, underneath his desk, was Ted’s book bag. And on his desk was his latest book, waiting to be read.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Orphan Girl

©Linda Goodman, January 2015

                In 1972, after a ridiculously easy three hours of labor, I gave birth to a baby girl. After the anesthesia had worn off, a nurse brought her to me and I got my first good look at her. I gasped and cried, “THIS IS NOT MY BABY!”
                “Of course it’s your baby,” insisted the nurse.
                “But she has red hair!” I protested. “No one in either my or my husband’s family has red hair!”
                “Well,” said the nurse, “that can’t be true. Red hair is a recessive gene. Red hair has to be in both the mother’s and the father’s families for a redheaded baby to be born.”
                After asking family members a lot of questions, I learned that my mother’s twin brother had red hair before he went gray. I also learned that several of my husband’s aunts had red hair.
                So in addition to a new baby, I also got a new story that I could use to entertain friends and family. Every time that someone asked me where my daughter Melanie’s red hair came from, I told that person the story of the day she was born, and how I had insisted that she could not possibly be my baby.
                When Melanie was eight years old and in the second grade, I went to an open house at her school. Each student in the school had been instructed to make from construction paper an art piece that would tell people something the student. I walked around the room and looked at the different projects. Roller derbies were quite popular at the time, so many of the students had made construction paper skating rinks and named the rinks after themselves.  Two students built churches. Another built a Tastee Freeze ice cream stand. Melanie had constructed a large paper house  and had written across the front  The Melanie Adams Orphanage.
                I was curious. “Why did you decide to build an orphanage?” I asked Melanie.
                “Because I’m an orphan,” she replied.
                Curiosity turned into confusion. “Why do you think you are an orphan, Melanie?”
                “Because you said so,” she sweetly told me. Then, with an innocence that only a child can muster, she added, “I am glad they gave me to you. I hope they don’t take me back some day.”
                I could not believe what I was hearing. “When did I tell you that you were an orphan?”
                “Oh, you didn’t tell me,” she said. “But I heard you tell Mrs. Michaels.  And Mr. Hamby.  And that old woman who asked you where I got my red hair.”
                I had never even realized that she was listening when I told that story to others. Melanie had thought she was an orphan for eight years, and I had never even suspected that.
                Of course, I set her straight. She seemed rather disappointed when I told her I was only telling a funny story to all those people; that she really was my child by birth.  “I guess I won’t be as interesting now,” she sighed,” and some poor parents out there are going to be so sad when they find out that I am not their child.”

                That’s my girl!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Santa and Me - Part 2

                                                             © 2010 Linda Goodman

                                       (This is part 2 of my story. Part 1 posted on December 8.)

            What could I do but play along?  And I must admit that when I awakened on the Christmas day that Morgan was three years old, the first year she was aware of all the hoopla, I was thrilled to hear her sit up and bed and loudly call out, “Did he come?”
            Then I watched in awe as she walked downstairs and entered the wonderland of toys that her pawpaw and her daddy had assembled for her.  She went from one to the other, hugging her new doll, playing her new keyboard, unpacking her tea set….. Finally laughing in delight as she spotted the empty plate and glass that had held cookies and milk for Santa.
            She was in awe when she found the letter that Santa had left for her. She was smiling and crying at the same time as her mother read the letter to her. I must admit that I shed a few tears of my own as I watched her big blue eyes widen with wonder.
And now this same child was asking me, “Mawmaw, is Santa Claus pretend?”

I decided to answer her question with a question.  “Why do you ask?”
“Well,” she replied, “a boy in my class is telling everybody that Santa Claus is pretend.”
I asked another question. “What do you think?”
She thought for a moment.  “Well, Mawmaw, he is awful fat.  How can somebody that fat fit down a chimbley?”
This was going to be tough, but I was up for it.  “Morgan, remember when we found that mouse in my house, and you asked me how it got in?  Remember I told you that mice could collapse their bodies to a quarter of an inch and slip in through a heating grate?”
She nodded.
I continued.  “Well, Santa is magic!  Just like a mouse, he can collapse his body so that it’s small enough to slide down any chimney.”
“But, Mawmaw, sometimes I’m at my house on Christmas, and sometimes I’m at your house, and sometimes I’m at Granny Annie’s.  How does Santa always know where to bring my toys?”
“I write him a letter every November to let him know where you will be.”
“But your fireplace has glass in the front of it.  How does Santa get through that without breaking it or cutting himself?”
“Your Pawpaw is very handy.  He takes the glass out of the fireplace after you go to bed, and he puts it back after Santa leaves.”
“How does Santa get into houses that don’t have chimbleys?
“For those houses, Santa has a magic key that opens any door.”
Now she really looked confused.  “If Santa has a key that opens any door, why does he bother with chimbleys at all?”
I was running out of answers.  “Have you asked your mom about this?”
She looked up at me with trusting blue eyes. “Yes, I did ask Mommy, but I know that you will tell me the truth.”

I was in a quandary.  I did not want to be the one to tell her that Santa Claus was not real; yet, if I withheld the truth now, she might never trust me again.  How could I extricate myself from this dilemma?
Suddenly, out of nowhere, an image of an 8 x 10 black and white photo, lying underneath a row of hanging file folders in a drawer of the cabinet in my office, filled my head.
“Just a minute, honey,” I told her as I ran from the room.  “I’ll be right back!”
I hurried to the filing cabinet in my office and searched as fast as my fingers would sift. In the third drawer down, I found what I wanted, just as my unexpected image had shown me.
Quickly I ran back to Morgan. “Here!” I gushed as I handed her the photo.  “This is a picture signed by the man himself!”
She stared at the black and white photo.  “What did he sign his name Sergeant Santa?”
“Uhm….that’s what the elves call him,” I improvised.  “It’s like a boot camp in the North Pole around Christmas time!”
She traced his beard with her index finger.  She ran her fingers across his signature.  “I knew he was real,” she whispered.
The following Monday, Morgan took that photo to school with her and showed it to all her friends who had been told that Santa was just pretend.  Together they confronted the bully who had tried to shake their faith, showing him proof that Santa was real.  My daughter told me that Morgan became a heroine to her classmates.

A few years later, my daughter called to tell me that Morgan had found out that Santa was a myth.
“Who told her?”  I asked.
“Nobody told her,” I was informed.  “Her class was studying aerodynamics and she figured it out all by herself.”
I asked to speak to Morgan.  When she came to the phone, I asked her if she was okay.
“Sure, Mawmaw,” she replied.  “It’s just Santa.  It’s not like it was God or anything.  But, you know, it was fun to believe for a while.  I think I will probably pretend that I still believe.  You know, for my baby sister.”  She paused before adding, “It’s like that storytelling thing you always say – Just because it can’t happen doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”

Morgan still has the picture I gave her, and I’m sure that Sergeant Santa would be happy to know that one of his autographed black and white photos is tacked to the bulletin board in the room of a fourteen year old girl in Fort Mill, South Carolina.
As for myself, I still have mixed feelings about Santa Claus.  I still cringe when I see parents spend enough money to buy a full month’s food supply on toys that lose their luster after a few weeks, while so many others struggle just to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.  There is something tragically wrong with that scenario.

And yet, I cannot help but fondly remember the thrill of that magic Christmas long ago, when I heard a three-year-old girl calling, “Did he come?”

Monday, December 8, 2014

Santa and Me - Part 1

© 2010 Linda Goodman

(This is part 1 of my story. Part 2 will be posted next week.)

            On August 21, 2010, Dalton Duling died.  Duling’s alter ego, Sergeant Santa, was a legend in the greater Richmond area.  A former police sergeant, he spent the last thirty-seven years of his life bringing Christmas to children who would not otherwise have had much to celebrate. 
            As I read his obituary, I remembered that my husband, Phil, had once worked with Duling’s wife, Dale.   She had given Phil an 8 by 10 autographed glossy black and white photo of Sergeant Santa for our granddaughter Morgan. Phil asked me to put the photo in a safe place until we saw Morgan again.  I put it in a place that was so safe, I forgot where it was.
            During a visit when Morgan was five years old, she asked me, “Mawmaw, is Santa Claus pretend?”
            I was not quite sure how to answer that question.  I myself had a checkered past with Santa. In the mountains, where I was born, Santa did not come to our small, one-room house. Daddy said that our roof would not support a sleigh with eight reindeer, no matter how tiny they were. 
Santa did, however, come through the area on a train, which stopped at various stations along its route so that presents could be dropped off for children in the region.  Several books have been written about the Santa Train.  Most of these books tell joy-filled stories.  Daddy did not allow me or my siblings to go to the Santa Train.  That would have been accepting charity, which my father frowned upon.  We did, however, hear the stories told by friends who had gone to meet the train.  Many of those stories were completely devoid of joy. A small child could get a decent present only if he was accompanied by an older sibling.  Otherwise, the big kids overran the smaller ones in a winner take all scenario. Most of the stories that I heard were heartbreaking.
Santa did come to our house once we moved to the city (for some reason, it was not charity if Santa came to our apartment).  For Christmas in the city, I usually got an orange, a couple of walnuts, and some paper dolls that looked like something my father would have made.  Meanwhile, the rich kids (to me, a rich kid was any kid who lived in a home that wasn’t missing shingles) got Betsy Wetsy dolls and cap guns.  Clearly, Santa liked rich kids better. 
            My best friend, Carole Ann, spent one Christmas with a foster family. She told me that the real kids got great gifts.  The boy got a set of GI Joe figurines, and the girl got a Candy Fashion doll with three evening gowns (not dresses – evening gowns!).  Carole Ann said all she got was some underwear and a knock-off Barbie doll whose clothes fell apart when she changed them.  I was incensed!  How could Santa show such favoritism when rich and poor were in the same house?  He was downright mean!
            When I found out that Santa was not real, I was relieved.  I found it comforting to know that there was no cosmic master of the toy universe who denied poor kids their due at Christmas time.
            When I had a child of my own, I decided that she would not be tortured, as I had been, by the Santa myth.  As soon as Melanie was old enough to speak, I taught her to say “No Santa!”  The first time she saw Santa at a shopping mall, though, she pointed at him and insisted, “See, Mommy, he is real!”
            I told her to go ahead and sit on his lap, but to be sure to feel the backs of his ears for the hooks that held his beard in place.  She did just that, later admitting, somewhat reluctantly,” It’s true, Mommy.  He’s not real.”
            “That right,” I affirmed. “There is no man in a red suit flying through the air in a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer.  Your single mother buys what she can afford for your Christmas.  That’s what all parents do.”

            Of course, the next school day she told all her classmates that Santa was a fake.  Her shocked and disapproving teacher gave her detention for the next three days, leaving her traumatized for some time to come.  In fact, eighteen years later, when I walked into her hospital room, my arms reaching for my new granddaughter, Morgan, Melanie held her baby close and growled, “This child will believe in Santa Claus!”

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Speak Up Spoken Word for the Arts Comes to Union County, NC

Speak Up Spoken Word Open Mike for the Arts is coming to Union County. It will be hosted by Faye Fulton and Linda Goodman, both of whom are professional storytellers. Beginning January 8, 2015, the event will be held on the second Thursday of each month in the community room at the UCCAC building, 120 N. Main Street in historic downtown Monroe. We will start at 7:00 PM and go until 9:00 PM. Each person who wants to speak will get 10 minutes (max). Faye and Linda will use the sound of a whistle to signal the end of your 10 minute time limit.

Storytellers, poets, comedians, singers, writers, and musicians are all welcome. Each week we will have a Featured Performer who goes on at 8:30 PM for half an hour. Our first three speakers will be musician and storyteller Ken Halstead, of Waxhaw, NC (January 8), storyteller Martha Reed  Johnson, of Florence SC (February 12), and Lona Bartlett, of Charlotte, NC (March 12). A hat will be passed to get gas money so the feature can get home.

Speak Up is the brain child of Tony Toledo, a professional storyteller who resides in Beverly, Massachusetts. Tony has been successfully hosting Speak Up Spoken Word Open Mic in Lynn, MA for almost a decade. Although the Lynn, MA group started small, in 2010 they had to move to a larger venue due to its popularity. We expect Union County to have the same success. Linda sought Tony’s permission to use the Speak Up name in Union County, and he said, “Go for it!”

Faye Fulton and Linda Goodman are both on UCCAC’s Artist Directory. They both share a love for storytelling and the spoken word, and they are excited about bringing Speak Up Spoken Word to Union County.

Anyone seeking more information, or would like to be considered as a future feature, should call Faye Fulton at 704-421-3220 or email her at

See you at Speak Up Union County!