During the annual National Storytelling Festival each year here in Jonesborough, I have the special privilege of being the personal escort of a dear friend – Kathryn Tucker Windham, Selma, Alabama – Storyteller (90 year-old Storyteller at that).
The Festival runs Friday through Sunday. Our historic Presbyterian church is the hospitality center for the weekend’s Tellers. I also have the privilege of running the center (indentured service to my Program Administrator spouse). On Sunday morning, this church has a special service for all festival goers who would like to attend.
This year, Kathryn announced to me on Saturday evening that I would pick her up on Sunday morning in time for the two of us to attend this service. And so I did.
We arrived at the hospitality center turned church again and found a seat. I could see the couple behind me shifting in their seats with the excitement of having Ms. Windham right in front of them. After some whispering, the husband leaned forward. “Ms. Windham, I don’t know if you remember or not, but many years ago (turns out it was 1978) you spoke to our group in Georgia and you gave us a seed.”
Kathryn carefully turned to catch his eyes squarely, and responded, “A Buckeye!”
He then went on to explain how he had kept that buckeye for years only to lose it in a recent move. Kathryn slowly turned back around in her pew, zipped open her big leather purse, and begin to shuffle around on the bottom. Within about 10 seconds, she pulled her frail little arm out of that bag with … you guessed it, a Buckeye!
With gentleness she turned back around and placed it in the man’s hand. He sat back stunned with gratefulness and wiped the tears from his cheeks.