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Great BIG Birthday

By Anita Garner

 

As of June, 2021, I've lived longer than anyone else in three  generations of my family, longer than both sets of grandparents, longer than Mother and Daddy, longer than my sisters and brothers. None of them got to be 80, the number I'm now celebrating.  Getting to be 80  years old doesn't feel like a random event. It feels momentous.

 

I'm not the only one among my kinfolk with hopes and dreams and plans and I'm mindful of many opportunities the people who came before didn't have. I was present at the end of the lives of some of them and heard first-hand what they wished they could have stayed around to accomplish.

 

 

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One of the last things Mother said to me was, "You're lucky you were born when you were.  You have choices I never had."  Both those things are true. I remain in awe of all she accomplished during her time, in places and ways no one could have predicted. I hope somehow she knows how it all turned out.

 

At the end of Daddy's life, he exhibited no restlessness about his closing chapters. He spoke only of gratitude.  "I have had me some beautiful morning walks." I wish he could have had many more.

 

During my 80th year I have the privilege of holding in my hand a book just published.  My family lived it but I was the one who lived long enough to write about it.

 

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I'm a person of faith so none of this feels accidental or coincidental.  Wherever the stories come from, in whatever form they want to take, written or spoken, I'll keep putting them together, though perhaps not as driven as Mother, and a bit more grateful like Daddy.

 

******

 

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

 
By Anita Garner

 

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New book.  New tour.  We'll get there.

 

We just clicked "live" on this new website built to introduce my book, "The Glory Road: A Gospel Gypsy Life." It's less than three weeks til release date. Thanks to Steve Bradford and Authors Guild for their help.

 

I'm published and vaccinated and ready to travel if the good Lord's willing and the crick don't rise.  I've been planning a trip from California to the east coast this fall to combine book appearances and visits with friends in New England. I'll rent a car in Boston and ramble around for a few days.

 

I had in mind taking the train one way and then flying home. I pictured me in a little roomette on Amtrak with lots of magazines and coffee and snacks and waving out the window at places I used to live and working when I feel like it. It could be a leisurely and productive and celebratory kind of journey all in one.

 

Then I learned from Amtrak that wifi isn't consistent on the train.  They make that clear.  I like my work and with all the connections I need to pursue, wifi is necessary.

 

My relatives were all train people.  Gramma K migrated from the Deep South to Southern California making several trips by train before enlisting all her Southern relatives to drive cars and trucks in caravans to move her belongings. She never hired a moving van.  We were the van.  Every fall, she trained back from Glendale, CA to Arkansas to be with her kinfolks during leaf season. Arkansas trees are spectacular  and worth the trip.  She  came off the train at Union Station in L.A. every time with a list of names and addresses and phone numbers from people she met onboard.

 

Mother never flew either, even when it would have been expeditious to do so.  We moved to California when she signed a recording contract, then the record company sent her back to Nashville to record with the backup singers and musicians they'd selected.  They said get here as soon as you can. She said, sure, I'll be right there – on the train.  Later she went out on a tour but got homesick for Daddy, quit part of the way through and cried all the way home – on the train.

 

Here I sit with my hopes for making this book launch/friend visiting trip, but no set plan for travel yet. No sense buying a super-saver airline ticket months in advance if the savings will disappear due to travel insurance and change fees.

 

I'll get there in person one way or the other. Meanwhile there are virtual appearances to plan, which is how most books have been launched recently. Mother was an early adopter of innovation  except for airline travel.  She'd have been the first to understand my wifi dilemma.

 

******

 

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