What do Brett Favre, Dolly Parton and Richard Thomas have in common? Part 2

(Continued from last post…)

Jim Brickman was playing at the (Nashville) Ryman Auditorium one glorious December night of the same year that our littles learned to treasure books of their own. The books were sent to them from “our friend, Dolly”, as they would say.

The intuitive Mr. Patient knew a sweet date would be just the thing to enjoy some peace and quiet as the Christmas Season crept upon us. So, he planned an evening of fanciness for me–for us. We got all gussied up, secured the Bigs to watch over the Littles, and trekked the hour to Music City USA. Having become familiar through work-related dinners, he knew the goodness of the prestigious Morton’s Steakhouse.

Morton’s has a reputation for fine dining which, of course, is attractive for many folks. Only for us this one time, but what a time it was!

The delicious fare had been consumed by us when we spotted someone who looked like “our friend, Dolly” and a companion walking into the restaurant. Now, keep in mind, I’m not too keen on recognizing famous folks. For a while, until I made my approach, not one person acted as if she were any more famous than I am! This was puzzling to me while Mr. P and I debated about whether it really was Dolly or a look-alike. How silly! Can anyone reeeaaally look as precious as Dolly!?! I mean, come on! There is no other, right? (Everyone loves Dolly and for good reason.)

Mr. Patient and I are different. He was content to finish his beverage, pay the bill, leave the tip AND the restaurant. Well, not me. I told him that I HAD to go up to her and thank her for the littles’ books. The night just couldn’t go on without this gesture. While he shook his head, rolled his eyes and smiled, I went to the restroom to get my nerve up. (Well, isn’t that what you would do?!? lol) Exiting the restroom with no more nerve than when I went in, I moseyed up to the booth where Dolly and her friend sat enjoying a nice meal undisturbed by no one–but me.

Cautiously and as politely as I could, I interrupted their dinner. I will never forget the conversation so I’ll just replay it for you now…

Dinner Interruptor (that’s Me): “Excuse me, I am very sorry to interrupt your dinner.”

Dolly (with genuine kindness): “Oh, that’s OK, honey.”

Me: “I just want to take a minute and thank-you for your books-for-children program. We have three foster children who look forward to receiving these books every month…” I went on to tell about the children, a bit of their circumstances, their excitement over the monthly gifts, and that they think she is simply their “good friend”. As I told of the children and their lives, I choked and couldn’t speak for a few minutes.

She invited me to sit beside her while I composed myself (and possibly to avoid drawing attention to our meeting 😬) Tears streamed down my face as I recalled the littles, their lives and their appreciation for any gifts. It had been an emotionally JAM-packed year and I had the gaul to spill it out to Dolly, of all people. Bless her heart! With her beautifully painted long fingernails, she wiped my tears from my face, and said, “Oh, Honey, it’s OK, it’s just me, Dolly.”

We concluded our sweet conversation by my thanking her again and she requested our address. She was generous to let Mr. Patient photograph our meeting (and he was gracious to do so but I know he was working hard to keep those eyes from rolling…ha!) A few days later, the littles each received in the mail another gift–personal messages to each child by name and autographed photos from “our friend, Dolly”.

I love that story of “our friend, Dolly”.

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Richard Thomas as we remember him during The Waltons TV seasons

Then there’s John Boy…

Do you recognize this fellow? He is Richard Thomas from The Waltons. In the event you are unfamiliar with this 1970s television show, I will tell you it was a successful series based upon a real Virginian family during the United States Great Depression. The series was created and often directed by Earl Hamner, who is portrayed by Richard Thomas in the series as “John Boy Walton”.  The shows are my go-to when I need some downtime. Good, clean, moral, homespun TV which transports me into a simpler time.

Last summer (2017) my ever-intuitive and attentive husband took us on a side-trip to the actual homeplace of the Hamner family which inspired The Waltons. (To read how that journey, in general, changed our lives, read here. ) While there, he purchased a membership for me to the Friends of the Waltons (fan club, basically). As a perk of that special club 😉 fans would have the opportunity to meet Richard Thomas in the fall of 2017, among other advantages of membership.

Mr. Patient knew that I had wanted to go but we dismissed that idea because **I** do not travel alone or alone with littles anymore. Fast forward, it turned out that Mr. P granted his blessing when I girded up my nerve (to drive, not to ask Mr. P) if he thought JonBoy (our son) and I could make the trip to Schuyler, VA. He said, “Of course!”

Off we went and the lessons learned, in general, on that trip can be read here.

I want to tell you about Richard Thomas, his character–and I don’t mean in the show.

At the former Schuyler elementary school which houses The Waltons Museum the lines were long, not too long, but long enough to wish we had a folding chairs. Fans occupied themselves by chatting with one another about the series, exchanging trivia, and just visiting with one another. I heard no one grumble. We could all see Mr. Thomas and his kind wife ahead of us as they interacted with fans. A topic of much conversation among those of us patiently waiting in line was the kindness, thoughtfulness and sincerity of the famous fellow and his lady. He thanked EACH person for coming, for standing in line, for waiting patiently, and even apologized to many for the wait time. He and his wife looked each person in the eye, smiled genuinely, and gave each one the attention that he or she desired. He treated each person as if his career depended upon that one individual. I was quite impressed as were the others who stood with me.

It was finally our turn! yay..Mr. Thomas seemed excited to learn that we call our son “Jonboy”. He even remembered his name later in the day when we met the second time. That was fun. Richard Thomas began a casual conversation with me, asking how many children I had. After my response, he told of his own and we just chatted as one parent to another. The chat was short but sweet.

In fact, you can watch a video of our first visit here. (I hope you do!)

So, here we are—full circle….. what do Brett Favre, Dolly Parton, and Richard Thomas have in common?

Well, besides the fact that they have all met me (haha), it is a simple common denominator but one that I feel should be told. These three very famous folks were kind, down-to-earth, normal-to-me, real-life, humble folks. Each one was generous with his/her time and attention. This is huge to me. I think it should be huge to you. Why? We need good news in this world.

We need to know there are folks who have hit the “big-time”– whether in sports, TV, music– who haven’t forgotten their roots, their beginnings, their fans, their HERITAGE.

And the biggest common denominator?? I would welcome any of these fine folks to our home with comfort and ease. I would LOVE to have any or all of them (at one time…can you picture that?!) at my supper table.

…..I just hope Mr. Brett F A V R E lets me know he’s comin’ so I’ll recognize him this time!

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KATIE, JONBOY, AND RICHARD THOMAS “JOHN BOY” one fall day tucked securely in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia 2017

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