Saturday is for Sharing –
#7 Guest Author
Meet Phyllis Staton Campbell
Where Sheep May Safely Graze
Phyllis, We are honored today to have you on Saturday is for Sharing weekly event on SCAN.
The scope of your creative work in teaching, musical performance, writing and publication is remarkable. You are truly a Renaissance Woman, Phyllis.
Often, I like to begin by asking an author about their name as a way of introduction. Our readers like to know more about the importance of an author’s name.
Q_ Do you use your own name for your writing projects or do you use a pen name? What do you think about your name? What do you think a name represents?
I can’t say that I have strong feelings either pro or con about the name by which I’m called. Conceited soul that I am, I always write using my name. I take pride in my work, and want the world to know it is mine. There is another writer whose name is Phyllis Campbell, so to prevent confusion, I sometimes add my maiden name, making it Phyllis Staton Campbell.
However, each of us has another name, one that is never spoken, nor appears on a legal document. This is the face we present to the world. This name is what we are, not to be confused with what some people may think we are, although certainly it helps to form the opinion of others. “She has a name for being generous.” Only we know the truth of that name. It is what we are deep down. Are we truly generous, brave, etc, or do we simply show these characteristics to bolster the opinion of others. Think about it. Do you like your name, both of them?
Q_If you wanted to leave a message for someone you have not seen in a long time, who would get your message and what would it say? How could the message be left?
Phyllis_ It has been five years since I heard my husband’s voice, touched his hand, or felt the warmth of his kiss. Five years since I sat beside him, knowing that I could not go with him on that last step on his final journey. Do I have things I want to say, things I never said? No. They are the same things I said during those years of our marriage, but now, they seem different. “I love you,” somehow has a different, deeper meaning. “I’ve missed you,” is different from when it was spoken when one of us had been away for a short time. So many feelings are different, now that the voice is Silent, the touch is gone, the step no longer heard, the passion of youth is no more. I long to tell him so many things one more time with the deeper meaning that is in my heart. There is no conventional communication between us, yet there is that spirit of love that will connect us throughout eternity.
Q_ What do you look for in a personal relationship ? Tell us about your friendships.
Phyllis_ It has been said, and for me, it is true. “You may have many acquaintances, but few friends.” Don’t get me wrong, acquaintances are nice. They are the people you meet casually, in the neighborhood, at work or school, at the grocery store. You discuss the weather, your favorite sports team, perhaps a new movie release.
A friend is one that you may not have seen for months, and who walks back into your life, occupying the same place as when they left. A friend is there at midnight without asking why you need them. A friend knows without being told what is on your mind, or in your heart. A friend accepts you as you are, even though they don’t always agree with you. Acquaintances are for today, friends are forever.
Q_ What thing could you never live without? What would happen if this one thing went away?
Phyllis_ I pushed the play button on the recorder, and the day-room was filled with the notes of “All Glory Be To God On High” for brass and organ. She sat beside me, this woman, who had been the organist at Saint Francis Catholic church in my home town of Staunton, Virginia for over thirty years. I had visited the church on several occasions, and thrilled to her music. Now that talent was gone, and she was spending the rest of her life in what amounted to a state of oblivion. To our amazement her hands and feet began to move in time to the music. I gently placed my hands over hers, and the fingers were moving exactly as they had moved on the keyboard of the pipe organ. She had no idea where she was, perhaps didn’t remember her name, yet the music she loved brought a fragment of the memory of her former life.
Memory is so many things from the practical, “I must remember to buy toilet paper,”
to those things of the past, good and bad, funny and sad. In many ways,
memory is our very existence. For me, it is my life.
Q_Do you have a handicap – if so, how does that affect your life and what you do? What would you want others to know about you as a writer?
Phyllis_ I have been blind since birth. People frequently ask, “Is it better to have been born blind, or to have lost your sight later in life.” Well,” I reply, “I’d prefer neither.” This usually earns me a laugh, and moves in the direction I’d like to go.
Losing one’s sight and knowing about the loss when it occurs, can be a traumatic experience, and there’s no getting around it, but it isn’t the end of the world. Well, yes, in a way it is, because that person’s life can never be quite the same. For me, and others born blind, or who may become blind in infancy or as a toddler, blindness is the world we know. Of course, we have problems, but I sincerely believe that in many ways they’re easier to at least accept, but, hey, blindness is blindness.
I have devoted most of my writing, especially my books to showing the public that we, the blind, are like everybody in the world, and most important, that we are individuals, with individual likes and dislikes, and diverse abilities. I also hope that in reading my books the blind, especially those who have recently lost their sight, may see themselves and their place in their new world, in a more realistic way.