Thursday, October 20, 2005

Twice blessed

The Heartland Film Festival is an annual event in Indy. For a week in the fall, theaters around town show independent, short, foreign, animated, documentary, student, you-name-it films. A volunteer opportunity won me a few comp tickets so my friend Jill and I went to see Kathryn: Story of a Teller this week.

Even through film, this 85 year old storyteller from Alabama made a theater-full of Hoosiers fall in love with her. A soft southern accent told unassuming stories about her ghosts, her childhood, her career, her future. At first glance, a person might not assume Kathryn had broken repressing gender and racial standards through her work as a reporter in Selma, Alabama. But with just a few words, her sweet sincerity casts a spell that'd make anyone want to be her friend...even ghosts.

There were lots of memorable tidbits in the film, but two stick with me. When Kathryn decided to make her funeral arrangements, she started shopping for a coffin. The ones on display were so expensive that she asked the funeral director, "Weren't these shipped here in boxes? Couldn't you give me one of those?" In the end, she asked a carpenter friend to build the coffin, which waits in her storage shed in the backyard. "It's become the most handy storage space," she said. When someone gave her a rosebud set of service for 12 and she couldn't get anyone in family to take it, she packed up the dishes and stuck them in the coffin. "When the time comes, they'll have to clean it out - it won't be my problem."

Then, at the end of a set of stories she told under a tent at a festival, she recited a few lines from a Jan Struther poem that she'd like to appear on her gravestone: "Here lies a woman twice blessed; she was happy, and she knew it."



At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 11:23 AM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

i wish i could've seen the film too! i have actually never been to that hoosier film festival. anyway, the last quote is really special. sounds like a very neat lady!



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