“Courage doesn’t mean you’re unafraid, it means you rise above your fear.” ~ Unknown
It’s time to get out your scorecards again. You’ve met Martha Conley through the Kevin Bacon six degrees of separation theory, except it’s way less than six degrees in her case. You first met her stuffed groundhog on the porch rail of the family home destroyed by the tornado in March 2012. Two of Martha’s three children, Betina and Charlie Jr. aka Little Charlie, along with their spouses Andrew and Kayla, helped me save Aunt Janet’s furniture when she also lost her house to the tornado. If it hadn’t been for them we would have lost nearly everything because I couldn’t move the furniture by myself. Their moral support was even more crucial than their labor to be sure. You met Martha’s sister Sharon Coffee Tharp in July of 2012 at Charlie and Kayla’s wedding. She had been my babysitter, and you might recall it had been 45 years since we’d been photographed together. You met Martha’s husband Charlie Sr. at Thanksgiving 2012. Charlie and mom grew up next door to one another and remained lifelong friends. You attended Charlie’s funeral the following year In December 2013 where you met Kadance, one of Martha’s five grandchildren. You met Martha’s Brother and sister-in-law Darrell and Barbara Conley in November 2015 at my Sacred Spaces exhibit opening, and you might remember that Darrell, also lifelong friends with mom, was baptized with she and Janet just last year. So, you see, you’ve met Martha Conley, but now you actually get to see the woman, the myth, the legend. She had a knee replacement earlier in the week. I dropped by today for a visit, homemade sweet bread and butter in hand. Her daughter Betina, son-in-law Andrew, and their children Lily and Finley, named after his great grandfather whom I remember fondly, were there, too. We had a fabulous visit. We marveled at how small our world is as we discovered friends we have in common outside of Morgan County. Martha’s a tough ‘ol bird, a shero, like her good friend Shirley Terry. I’m certain the two friends will be back in church sitting side by side before you know it. There’s not a better person on this planet than Martha Coffee Conley. She and Charlie raised three of the finest people I’ve ever known. They all married well, and now they’re raising brilliant, funny children. Perfect example: Fin and Andrew want a pig named Chris P. Bacon. Hilarious! We might not be related by blood, but these are my people and I love them with all my heart.