Not long after my debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published last December, my cousin Anne asked me if I would do a presentation to her local chapter of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a philanthropic organization that provides college scholarships to women. Before each meeting, the group has a program featuring a talk by a successful woman–and by virtue of my publishing history, apparently I was a successful woman. I was incredibly flattered and very happy to oblige–as long as Cousin Anne understood that there was no way I was driving over Bethel Mountain to get to East Middlebury in the winter or in mud season. The date was set for June 22nd.
I headed out for Vermont the evening prior and made the mistake of relying on my GPS for directions. Once I got off Route 89, the GPS took me onto a narrow road with sections that had been washed out and more-or-less repaired with gravel. The narrow road became dirt, my ears started popping from the steep climb, and then the dirt road narrowed to one lane, threatening to become a cow path. At that point, I pulled off by a pasture and looked at a map, which naturally didn’t show the road I was on or the one that led to it.
And the Spirit of Vermont thundered down from the mountains, “You can’t get there from here!” When I finally managed to get off the mountain and arrive at Cousin Anne’s, she wanted to know why I hadn’t followed the directions she’d given me. Because I left the Post-It note stuck to my desk, says I.
My presentation went very well. I introduced it by explaining that I had been a member of the first class at Old Dominion University to graduate with the creative writing concentration in 1982, and I published my first novel in 2018 at the age of sixty-two. That set the group back a few paces!
The Connection to the P.EO. Sisterhood (Saving the best for last!)
The mutual connection Cousin Anne and I have to the P.E.O. Sisterhood is our grandmother, Velma Moore Brown, who was very active in the organization for over thirty years, rising to the position of Massachusetts president. Velma is second from the right in both pictures.