>Their Own Special Utopia

>100 years ago, in 1908, 500 “free thinking people” seeking “their own special utopia” established the town of Fairhope, Alabama on a bluff overlooking the Mobile Bay. I love this part of the history of Fairhope:

Over the years artists, writers, and craftsmen have found Fairhope to be an inspiring haven for their work and have helped to make the community what it is today.

How fitting that this town now plays host to one of the most eclectic gathering of those writers every November for the annual “Southern Writers Reading”

I’ve been staring at this computer screen for two hours waiting to be hit with something really brilliant to write about the weekend… but I’m posting from a hotel room in Jackson, Mississippi, after spending the afternoon at the hospital with my mother. She’s having a partial hip replacement tomorrow. But she has no idea where she is or why. The contrast is stark—between the creative energy at work during the weekend in Fairhope and the quickly diminishing flicker of light in my mother’s mind. Or maybe not—maybe she is also in her own special utopia.

I am terrified of surgical procedures, and could barely sleep the night before my surgery for cervical cancer in 2001. But Mother sleeps in peace tonight, oblivious to what tomorrow brings. Over and over this afternoon, she opened the musical card I brought her that plays “Day by Day” from the musical “Godspell” and is each time amazed anew at the miracle of the music coming from the greeting card. She watches the sun set from her hospital window and asks where she will sleep tonight.

“Right here, in your bed, Mother”

She doesn’t question me, other to ask where I will sleep.

“I’ll be right down the street, at the Cabot Lodge, and I’ll be back in the morning, before your surgery.”

“Surgery?”

“For your broken hip, remember?”

“Oh, it doesn’t bother me much. But I’ll see you in the morning.”

I kiss Mom, then I hug Sondra, our very special sitter, goodbye and leave for my hotel room as mother picks at the chicken and turnip greens and cornbread on her tray. She smiles.

“See you in the morning, Mom.” And I drive down the street to my hotel.

By the time I check in and unpack, my magical weekend in Fairhope feels much more than twenty four hours and two hundred miles away. I look over my notes…. names of writers and agents and publishers I met and networked with all weekend… nuggets of brilliance and kindling for the fire that burns in my creative soul.

My camera full of images of a weekend spent with friends from my writing group and the eclectic group of artists, musicians and writers who answered the siren call of Sonny Brewer and gathered to share their gifts. And my heart full of gratitude for the amazing hospitality of the good people of Fairhope who opened their homes to us vagabonds for dinners and breakfasts all weekend long.

But tonight I have no strength for writing about the gifts of the weekend or downloading the photos. Maybe tomorrow night. Tonight I will use my dwindling energy to say a prayer for my mother’s healing at the hand of the surgeon tomorrow. And for her continued peace in the midst of the growing fog. May she meet God in the cloud as Moses did. Her own special utopia.

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