Conversation Corner: Finding the connections that make our lives complete

Published 8:00 am Friday, September 28, 2018

Saluda Community Land Trust, with help from the Polk County Community Foundation, purchased two parcels of land along the railroad spanning the Henderson/Polk County line, both owned by heirs of Robert H Moody.

One of these parcels has a clean title because it was purchased through the foreclosure process, and the other parcel is a bit different; one of the two owners listed on the deed sold his interest to SCLT, but the other 50 percent was registered to a person (the missing Moody) who has not been located since 2000.

To explain all of the hoops that SCLT has been jumping through for the past four years in order to clear up this mess would take far more than my allotted 700-900 words for this corner, so let me simply say that it’s a mess. The joke at SCLT is that we are looking for a Moody heir who could clear up the title — “any Moody will do.”

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The property is very important because of its location, within walking distance of Saluda School, and it is a beautiful piece of unspoiled mountain land.

Now the story begins.

A woman from Greensboro, North Carolina, came for a visit in Saluda a month or so ago. She picked up a printed copy of the Saluda Lifestyles and took it back home for an 85-year-old friend, who spent her childhood in Saluda.

That woman was Lorena (“Renie”) Moody Ledwell Jefferson. Renie came upon the SCLT portion of Lifestyles, telling about a workday that coming Friday at the Moody house, and she called the number. Then she got John Savage, the Moody volunteer worker.

To put it mildly, Renie was ecstatic. She and four other of her cousins, all now deceased, had fought for many years to preserve their fathers’ home place, only to be defeated by Robert L. Moody (now deceased), father of the missing Moody.

Since that telephone call to John, so much has happened.

Renie spent two weeks gathering up all the Moody family history. Her close friends in Greensboro started planning a trip to bring her back home, to see the place she loved so much. The SCLT board helped arrange for lodgings for the night.

Renie and her friends, Ed and Peggy, drove from Greensboro on Thursday afternoon.

We all talked for a while, then spent hours on the Moody property, at the site where the old house once stood. We found the footstones from the graves of her grandmother and grandfather for Renie to take back home.

She rubbed her hands in the sand, as she had done so many times as a child. She marveled at the old rock wall that she dearly loved, which had been cleaned off weeks before by SCLT volunteers.

Then we all went to Twin Lakes for a picnic, where she told us more and more and more about Saluda and its residents, the way it used to be.

She was SO happy to be “home,” surrounded by folks who were working hard to preserve the land she loved.

The next morning, we ate breakfast at Ward’s Grill. Then we walked up the street to the bank where Robin watched Renie sign a quitclaim deed for the land and then put her notary stamp upon it, helping to clear up the cloudy title.

Then we went to the historic depot (the Moodys worked for the railroad), where Renie told us even more stories about who worked on the train, and about her uncle, who was killed in a railroad accident. She was so happy to tell the stories, and we were eager to hear everything that she said.

Renie, Ed and Peggy drove back to Greensboro that afternoon. Renie talked about nothing but how happy she was the whole way home.

The next morning, when Peggy called to check on her, Renie said that she’d had a rough night and needed to go to the hospital. Even though she had been fine for her last check-up, the cancer of 12 years ago had come back, and she could not breathe.

After four days in the hospital, she went to hospice, and died at 5 a.m. this morning, Sept. 19. Her last words were “I’m happy. I’m ready to die now. I’m ready to go home.”

I do not believe in coincidences. There is a divine order, or a spirit of goodness that connects us all though positive energy, if we take time to listen. It was a random act of kindness, or love, that made Renie’s friend pick up the Saluda Lifestyles and take it to Renie in Greensboro.

Why did Renie read it? Because she still loved the memories of her childhood home. From there, it all fell into order: she called John, John sent me the email, friends brought her to Saluda because they dearly loved Renie, and Renie was able to fulfill one of her greatest wishes, to see her childhood home kept safe.

Renie was a widow with no children, so this was very important to her. And it all happened because we cared, within less than three weeks.

We’ve all heard of the circle of life. It’s the connections that make our lives complete.

We spend our entire lives trying to figure out why we are here, and what we’re here for. There’s something about making peace with our beginnings, and our childhood, that often completes that mysterious circle of life.

To have been part of that process with Renie is an honor for all of us who were called to do so, all made possible because of a little blurb in the Saluda Lifestyles.