Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mingling with Superstars

Just by chance, there was an open seat next to Sharon Sala for our luncheon. She's very soft spoken in a room of 2000 other women, munching down on our salads. Blessed with having the same first name, she promised to remember me.

When she gave her acceptance speech for the Lifetime Achievement Award (the nice big gold statue she's holding), I got to hear the strength of this woman and her tough determination to "turn my family's tradition of storytelling into a career."

Both she and Sherrilyn Kenyon are of Cherokee descent. I'm only descended of vikings and rogue Scotts, some of whom lost their heads (as in Mary). What was most fascinating was her story of the wolf, and how this wolf "marked" her, according to old Cherokee legend.

As a child, she used to walk home from the bus stop, and her family dog, Buddy, was there to escort her both ways. One day she noticed a lone wolf that followed through the woods, parallel to her, and how Buddy growled and his hackles stood up even on the days when she didn't see the wolf. She knew he was there. And Buddy was doing his job to protect her. I think she said it happened one entire school year (she was 6 I believe).

Years later, she mentioned this wolf to a Native American elder, who told her this meant she was "marked" for greater things. That there was a purpose to her life. Something great would happen to her. And she's taken that to mean she was destined to tell the stories like the ones told to her by her great grandfather, her grandfather and father before her.

This rich storytelling tradition was the thread that has bound many generations of her kin together, connecting forever the living and the dead. The stories remain. They will always remain. They are truly immortal.

At lunch I asked her where she got her inspiration for her first books. She looked at me square in the eyes and said honestly, "Bad marriage." She later found her high school sweetheart and was happily married until his passing, had babies and told her stories. Her granddaughter attended one of her book signings and, after watching people come up and speak to her over and over again, probably gushing (my editorial license here), her granddaughter turned to her and asked, "Grandma, are you famous or something?" To which Sharon responded, "I don't think so. They just like my stories." Her granddaughter replied, "No, Grandma. I think you're famous. More than Brittney Spears."

What about your stories? Are you marked for greatness? Are you giving the world the benefit of your wonderful stories--some carved from stone and some forged in fire?


  1. My father is Chippewa, and he always has stories and lore about everything in our lives. The last time I was home in Minnesota, I was woken to a pack of wolves chasing a train threw my small hometown. I hadn't experienced it since moving away from there when I was ten. It was comforting to know somethings never change. My dad said it was the wolves welcoming me home to my ancestral homeland. The wolf for my people is the symbol of family.

  2. Great story, Lee. Something about wolves that intrigues me. They have a special relationship with mankind. Not surprising they would herald your return to your roots.