Marian Carcache: Literacy is a gift to all of us

It could have been a fiasco, but it wasn’t.

For months, I’ve waited eagerly for Columbus native Karen Spears Zacharias to return South to be guest author for the Lee County Literacy Coalition’s (LCLC) annual fund-raiser.  She’s been one of my favorite commentators on religion since I read her book, Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide: ‘Cause I Need More Room for My Plasma T.V.  But she has proven her versatility as a writer, now having to her credit not only her bold and insightful non-fiction works but also three acclaimed novels.

But back to the near-fiasco.

As I was preparing notes to introduce Karen at an afternoon reading that was to take place before the big event that evening, her plane was snowbound in Portland.

Both she and LCLC acted quickly. Karen recommended another Columbus writer, Mamie Pound, to cover for her on very short notice so that the 150 people who had bought tickets to the banquet would not be disappointed. And no one was.

Mamie read a heart-rending piece about her childhood relationship with her grandmother and her grandmother’s maid, Lessie.  She told her story through the eyes of an adult looking back who only now realizes the complexities of the interactions between the older women, one white and the other black. She emphasized what a difference literacy could have made in Lessie’s life.

The LCLC had the quite clever idea of leaving notes written in Chinese on every table, revealing who won door prizes. Each of us got to momentarily experience the frustration of being handed a message we could not read, a frustration that too many among us live with daily. Once again, I am reminded of the simple abundance in my own life and the many things we take for granted.

Marian Carcache  welcomes 

comments at carcamm@auburn.edu.