This has been a fun week. Not much time for painting but a lot of good fellowship with those of you who were with me in Lynchburg, Virginia, or in Dayton, Ohio, for the weekend convention. Thank you for the inspiration your love and encouragement brings to me. I now look forward to next weekend when I will meeting more friends at the Barn and Museum.
Last Thursday I fulfilled an engagement to speak at the start of the Fall Centennial Program of the Woman's Club of Lynchburg. Three years previously I had spoken at the Woman's Club of Virginia in Richmond and Shirley Moorman, the then state president, had booked me for this occasion.
I am very happy I was able to keep the commitment to be with these highly dedicated ladies. In this, their centennial year, they are donating $50,000 to help restore Lynchburg's historic Academy of Music that will benefit all of the arts and another $30,000 to the community for other projects and charities. Each year this club gives a number of scholarships for local students going on to university and is a major contributor to The Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Plantation.
I salute these ladies whose average age is 71. In today's world of working women and harassed moms chauffeuring children to endless after school activities, the opportunity to devote time to women's clubs is disappearing and new young members are hard to come by. The ladies of this club are soldiering on with undiminished spirit. Next year I will be accompanying Malcolm to the two hundredth anniversary of his army regiment's dinner club in England. The scene will be much the same, with Malcolm amongst the youngest and the average age more like eighty. As we stand to toast "Her Majesty The Queen", I too will feel a tingle of pride for the enduring tradition, however sad its inevitable end when the last of the old and bold are laid to rest.
The Dayton convention started with a sell out lunch for the benefit of PALS for Life, the breast cancer support group. It is ten years since I first linked up with these wonderful volunteers who bring comfort and encouragement to those who suffer the effects of this awful disease. As a twenty year breast cancer survivor, it was natural that I should feel empathy for their goals. It was very meaningful to me to be back amongst them.
Malcolm, who grades each of my talks, gave me a rare ten when I spoke after the luncheon. The feeling of all around love was so intense that I did not have to think what to say, it just came out of me naturally. PALS for Life remained a part of our weekend and benefited from various activities to the extent of some $3,000 and will continue to benefit from the on going sale of the print Sisterhood. Also benefiting from the weekend was our education foundation which received more than $5,000 from auctions, a raffle and our Sunday morning walk. I particularly thank our dealers, Ruthie Van Gilder and Al Sandstrom for their donations of raffle items.
The camaraderie of the weekend was incredible and once again I find myself thinking of it as a family event. As the years pass, we become ever closer in our relationships and in our caring for each other. I am very privileged to have experienced this in my lifetime. I am often thanked for having touched the lives of others through my art. It is important for you to know that this warmth and love travels in both directions and that you equally touch me and enrich my life.
The Society contributed much to the success of the weekend while also signing on more than thirty new members, including five nurses who played hooky from their own convention and crossed the road to be with us. Lance, the Society Administrator, provided much merriment at the Saturday night party when he performed a special dance for two birthday ladies and earned himself a permanent spot on our entertainment team.
I will leave it to the photos to tell the rest of the story of the convention but I want to say one thing more and that is in praise of the Dayton river front. Our Sunday morning walk took us to the river. I had heard of the fountains but when we got there, they were dormant. We stayed to take photos and read the poetry aloud, then, just as we were leaving, the fountains came on and the full delight of this spot came into being. I congratulate all concerned with the creation of this work of art and also the conversion of the market place into a history museum.
During the weekend I was told there is a buzz going around Ohio that I am dying. If this is true I am unaware of it, except of course we are all in the process of eventually dying. My recent annual physical found no fault, except for my being overweight. My only pain is occasional from a big toe Malcolm dropped a railway tie on a few years back and a thumb injured when he failed to stop the boat from hitting the dock in Panama. Other than this I am fine.
I am now looking forward to the coming weekend and greeting visitors to my Barn home in Waynesboro. I will be at home Friday, Saturday and Sunday. After I have said goodbye to the last of you, I will put the finishing touches to my packing for Italy. Over Monday night, Malcolm and I will fly to Rome to be met by my daughter Becky. My next letter to you will come from Cortona where I hope the Tuscan sun will still be shining.
Bye for now.