Donna Sutton and Fiddle

I met Donna Sutton a few years ago while I was writing an article about trained therapy dogs and how they give young children the courage to read aloud in front of their peers.  

Donna Sutton with her fiddle.  Photo taken by Matt Baxter (Just Shoot Me Photography in Chattanooga).

I was instantly drawn to Donna's Soddy Daisy charm and personality.

I visited her school on several occasions and witnessed the miracle of Read Aloud Chattanooga, a nonprofit group that promotes reading and learning among elementary school children.  During one of my visits, I told Donna about Project Keepsake.  She paused, then said, "Well, I have a keepsake story for you."

And then Donna eagerly told me the story behind a violin that she keeps in a glass case at her home. Like so many keepsakes, Donna's violin—or fiddle, as she calls it—connects her to memories of her father and her grandfather. She looks at the violin every day on her way out the door, and she remembers them.

I'm grateful that I met Donna Sutton, and I'm delighted that her story is in the book. 

Grandaddy could make the fiddle sing. He played it to entertain himself, family members, and friends. When I close my eyes, I can see him stroking the strings of his fiddle with his bow, and I can hear its music in my mind.

"On Saturday nights, he’d say, ‘Let’s go to the neighbor’s house and make music,’” Daddy remembered. “He’d play Under the Double Eagle and I’ll Fly Away. He loved to play country and gospel music.” —Donna Sutton