8/17/23

And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

Buckle yourself in; this is going to be a rocky ride. I’ve been trying to figure out how I can write about this week’s Moment when the Moment that has been sticking most in my head and following in my footsteps has been sad. And honestly, it’s hard to talk about, because I think so many people will consider it silly. Even I keep telling myself it’s silly, but in my own little universe here, it doesn’t feel silly at all.

So last March, I met Richard Thomas, who played John Boy on the television show, The Waltons, created by Earl Hamner, and preceded by playing John Boy in the made-for-TV movie, The Homecoming. The Waltons has long been my favorite television show, even though I never watched it when it originally aired. Instead, I sat up at the desk in my room, writing in my journal, listening to my family on the floor below, watching The Waltons, where John Boy sat at the desk in his room, writing in his journal, and listening to his family on the floor below, listening to the radio. The sense of community I felt was just so…amazing doesn’t even begin to cover it. But I felt like I connected with someone, in history, who loved writing as much as I do. Who embodied writing the way I do. Later, when I watched The Waltons in reruns, after graduating with my degree in creative writing, I connected with John Boy even more. When he learned that his novel could sit on a publisher’s slush pile for months without being read, he shouted, “That’s barbaric!” On my couch, I raised both fists in the air and shouted with him.

It led to owning the show on video, and then on DVD. It led to owning Waltons paraphernalia. It led to visiting the real Walton’s Mountain and meeting Earl Hamner’s aunt, who showed me what a trailing arbutus was. And I corrected the Walton’s Museum tour guide – she was so wrong. It led to naming my daughter Olivia. It led to Earl Hamner “friending” me on Facebook. And truly, I think it led to my creating AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, a community for writers.

And it led to my meeting John Boy, Richard Thomas, last March, standing in the cold outside the stage door where he was playing Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. He was so gracious and kind. He signed the poetry book he wrote back when he was John Boy, he accepted my gift of a copy of Hope Always Rises, and he asked, after hearing my story, if he could hug me.

It was such a stellar night. And I admit, the part of me that can still dream, that still holds on to goals that I set for myself when I was oh so young, goals that I see falling away unaccomplished now, well, that part of me thought, Maybe he’ll read the book, love it, show it to his agent who will pitch it to a streaming channel, and it will be made into a series, with Richard Thomas playing my version of God.

I told you it was silly.

But I dreamed. And then the months went by. I didn’t hear a word. For all I know, my book was set down in his hotel room and forgotten. And so I became sad. It’s been a year of realizing that dreams are fading away. That time is running out. And it just added sad onto a sad I was already feeling. I’ve been told I’ve accomplished a lot – 14 books and counting, and AllWriters’ – and I will acknowledge that I have. But the big dream is still far, far away. And slipping beyond the horizon.

But then this week, after watching the Barbie movie, a post appeared on a Facebook page that claimed to be owned by Richard Thomas. It shared an article about Ann Roth, who played an old woman on a bench in the movie. She is a legendary (though she doesn’t want to be called that) costume designer. I answered the post, saying that it was one of the most moving parts.

And about 20 minutes later, I received a private message on Facebook from Richard Thomas. He thanked me for my post, said he hoped I was doing well. I reminded him that he’d met me and when, and he said, “Oh, of course, Giorgio!” Then he said he had to go, but if I wanted to talk further, I could see him on Google Chat, which he said was more private and protected, which was important to him because of who he was.

Now I’m not gullible. Really, I’m not. But I went to Google Chat. He’d left a message for me. But he kept calling me Giorgio. I reminded him that this was my last name. And then he said other things that didn’t make sense.

I went back to the Facebook page. Under the “About” section, I looked at “Transparency”. And discovered that the page administrator is from Nigeria.

I shut down all communication. I tried to contact Facebook about it, but if you report that someone is faking being a celebrity, you are supposed to say who, and click on the correct page for the celebrity. Richard Thomas does not have a Facebook page. So I couldn’t click on Submit and report it.

I felt so betrayed.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about dreams. How dreams get us through, keep us reaching for more. In the Barbie movie, the message is that while Barbie (the doll) told girls they could be everything, it didn’t allow girls to just be themselves. Your “be” had to be huge. You had to excel.

I have always, always worked hard at excelling. Even when I was told by my family that I was just wasting my time, sitting at home, pretending to write the Great American Novel. I did write the Great American Novel, dammit. 7 times over. Working on 8.

But that one dream…well, not so much.

So it’s been a sad week. I’ve glanced at the shelf where I have a photo from the night I met Richard Thomas and the signed copy of his poetry book, and told myself that it’s not Richard Thomas who is my hero, but John Boy, the character he portrayed and Earl Hamner created, and Richard Thomas is not John Boy. John Boy wouldn’t have left my book behind. Richard Thomas might have.

But then something else happened. Because I knew I was going to see the Barbie movie, I posted on my own Facebook pages about my novel, In Grace’s Time, published in 2017. Grace is a character who has lost her son, and she was never allowed to play with dolls as a child. Virgil owns a doll shop and hospital. And they go on one hell of a journey. “For those of you Barbie-ing over the Barbie movie (we’re going to see it tonight),” I said, “you might want to know that my novel, In Grace’s Time, has Barbies in it, as well as many other dolls.”

And beneath that post, comments began to appear.

“A lovely story!”

“I really enjoyed this story!”

“One of my FAVORITE books!”

And then:

“Kathie Giorgio, it helped me when my son passed.”

It helped me.

I helped her.

Well, you know, that was always my very first goal.

Some dreams, I realized, have come true. Some goals too.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

(If you want to read In Grace’s Time, you can find it at https://www.amazon.com/Graces-Time-Kathie-Giorgio/dp/161296897X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1692292107&sr=1-2 or from your favorite bookstore, or from the publisher, or from me. I’d even sign it! )

My novel, In Grace’s Time. Published in 2017.
Me with Richard Thomas, on that cold, cold night.
My shelf with some special things. The Waltons lunchbox. The Waltons board game. A copy, now signed, of Richard Thomas’ book of poetry. And the photo with him.

 

 

 

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