June 23, 2006


Dear Kathy,


Ever since I finished your book, I’ve been eager to share my response. Somehow the time keeps slipping past. I did also want to have my copy close at hand as a reference; however, I have lent it to a friend (a former Cenadl nun) who works with women in various stages of education. I’ll have to wing it…


Maybe I have already mentioned some of my reactions, but I wanted to be more definitive. Naturally, knowing your dear mother Teresa, your allusions to her particular inspiration for you was gratifying. And, indeed, she had a motivation and determination that led her to her goal. She had a vision of what she wanted to accomplish, and she made that a reality by dint of her efforts. To start out at that time of her life to develop a new career was a remarkable feat. She accomplished this on her own.


Being aware of her unique contribution seems to have fired up your own calling. I was intrigued by the personal histories of the amazing women you chronicled. Each had her own set of challenges and decisions, and they handled them with courage, confidence and creativity. Each deserved recognition. In many cases their successes were their own rewards.  I can believe you will discover a variety of ways their efforts have influenced their families.


The next interesting factor is how this whole move to Pikeville, the community response to you and your family, as well as your integration into the culture has made a distinct difference in your life. You have gained a particular understanding of a way of life, affected but not radically modified by mainstream influence. It has truly become HOME for all of you. You have all given much to this active community just by giving of yourselves, and your gifts.


Thanks for wading through my musings, but I had great pleasure in your book.  Bringing this work to completion was a terrific effort.


Much love to you, Mark, Laura, Brian.


Love, Gerrie


P.S. I deeply appreciate your “giving voice” to these articulate “whistlin’, crowin’” women of Appalachia. Sensitively drawn!


Gerrie Fenton

My mother’s first cousin