|Mike Seeger visits Tommy at Charles House in 1998. Cece Conway is on Tommy's left.||
The hard part used to be going into the nursing home, but that has gotten easier. Now the hard part is leaving. Then, Dad gets a stressed look on his face. It is dinnertime, and the room is full of diners. They are not always happy. Some times there are squabbles and crude language. My father does not like that. When people get nasty enough my great big very strong father has been known to stand up in the middle of the room at his table, and communicate the following idea: "Hey! Stop that! That's bullshit." My impression of the social scene there is that when Dad does this, the squabbling stops. While my father retains his traditional status as the "dominant male" in a group, he does not like having to be a "cop". He is a gentle and sweet man nowadays, and that is the only side of his nature that he wants to express.
Today a friend of mine, Susan Ketchin--a writer and member of the Tarwater Band, met me there with her Sacred Harp Hymnbook. With that, a Baptist hymnal, Rise Up Singing, and our memories, we sang: “The Keeper Did a'Hunting Go,” “Farther Along,” “Hard Times,” “Wayfaring Stranger,” “Give Me The Roses While I Live,” “We Shall Overcome,” “Long Black Veil,” “Amazing Grace,” “Keep on the Sunny Side,” “This Little Light Of Mine,” and “Farther Along” again, to name a few. More than once we got three-part harmony going with Dad. He can't articulate the right words anymore, but he gets the notes right most of the time. When it was dinner time, and all the other folks came into the dining room where we were sitting, one of the recent arrivals, an African-American Lady who just two weeks ago complained and worried about that "Big White-Man", came and sat at our table, singing along with us on “This Little Light,” and “Farther Along.” In between songs she suddenly jumped up and left the room like she had an idea. She returned moments later with her Bible, which she opened to the inside of the front cover. Her name was written there. As she joined in singing “Farther Along,” she lightly brushed her hand over the inside of her Bible. Several other people in the room were singing with us, and at the end of the song, someone shouted "Hallelujah!"
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Tommy's section of the site, the following pages
are also related to Jesse and Tommy:
Blurred Time "The Sleeper": the aftermath of Jesse and Bobbie's car accident
Mike Craver's "Visiting Tommy"
Roots of the Red Clay Ramblers:
Fuzzy Mountain String Band: Jesse's mom, Bobbie, recorded with Rambler Bill Hicks and others
Hollow Rock String Band: Tommy and Bobbie Thompson named this band for their community
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February 17, 2000