Go Rest High
"Carolyn was the kind of person who would go to the Ladies Room and come out with the personal stories of everyone in there." So daughter and Rev. Dr. Diana Moore soothed and regaled an overflow gathering of friends in remembrance and commemoration for the passing of Jonesborough's Mrs. Carolyn Dabbs Moore, an integral and beloved citizen neighbor of our bereaved community. "She was," Diana shared, "a difficult act for her daughters to follow," having graduated from high school at 16 and with double majors from university at age 19. They did their best and succeeded admirably in their uniquely different ways. We were reminded that she loved their Dad, her only husband, very much and visa versa. They met as college actors and continued that interest together elsewhere including here. She didn't like Mother's Day and one main reason was that one year he took her, and their three daughters, out to dinner for that occasion to a good restaurant which, as all are, was very busy and slow on that day. He had an infamous short temper. When they arrived home, she broke the silence by saying, "Don't you ever take me out to dinner again for Mother's Day."
Carolyn's father (a Dabbs) was a well-known writer and activist for civil rights. Martin Luther King Jr. named him in a letter from jail as one of three outstanding southern white men who'd stood up and out for the right during those contentious and sometimes violently dangerous days.
She was the second daughter of his five children; her mother died when she was two, and her father remarried, siring three others. Diana recounted that the daughters as youngsters were very woebegone to move from all the action of Johnson City to the boonies of Jonesborough, where they knew they would have no company and no boys would date them. That turned out to be untrue. Carolyn and husband Richter became locally famous for their parties, which were "very unusual."
In the last year of life, her daughter continued, Carolyn donned a pink wig one day before going with Diana to her regular Saturday morning breakfast at the Cranberry Thistle. A few weeks later inside Diana's church, one of the young parishioners had dyed her hair pink and Carolyn commented on how much she liked it. The mother replied, no doubt a bit acidicly, "You wouldn't if it were your daughter," and Diana thought to herself in response, "How would you feel, then, if it was your mother instead?" Carolyn insisted on getting out to vote two weeks before her passing and, a lifelong and self-described "yellow dog Democrat," chose a Republican for one office, because there was no opposition. Diana remarked that at that instant, "There were earthquakes everywhere as that happened. Earthquakes."
In the basement meeting room, easels had been set up with selected photographs taken and saved from throughout Carolyn's long and lively, diverse and committed, curious and involved lifetime. Most congregants assembled there were colorfully and sometimes unusually attired for the occasion of sharing stories and a few regrets. On leaving though, I thought, "That's probably the closest Presbyterians will ever get to a real Irish wake," and that Carolyn enjoyed it, that perhaps that was her last earthly request.
"Carolyn Moore was a member of FOCIS and served with the Development Committee for years. I’ve known her since 1975 when I first came to Jonesborough and lived for 18 months in her Victorian 24 room home.... She shared her family with me in profound and wonderfully crazy ways. Sponsoring her coming into FOCIS was a way for me to share my family with her.... Your good daughter, Pastor Diana, reminded us that you are the GOLDEN THREAD that ties all us diverse characters together in a unique tapestry. Part of tapestry is wonderful design and structure. I love you, my wild Irish rose." -- social activist/artist/instructor Margaret Gregg
"She was a very dear and strong friend, not just to me, but to many, many people, and she made a huge positive difference in people’s lives around the world by her spirit and resolve. Tears are appropriate, but I can’t think of anyone who’d more want her friends, town, state and nation to…carry on. She suffered a lot physically and was very very brave and stoic about it all. I don’t recall ever really hearing her complain through the years about that. Which always reminds me of an old (Jewish) saying: ‘God must love you very much to make you suffer so.’ I know a lot of people don’t understand that, but believe it has to do with rising above it, e.g. Beethoven was completely deaf when he wrote his most beautiful and memorable orchestrations, sonatas...." -- jh, FOCIS newsletter