It is with heavy and torn hearts that the Farther Along writing group mothers, who have been together since October of 2002, say goodbye to one of our members, Scharme Shown, who died on July 8th. We already had a Zoom writing session scheduled for Sunday, July 12 and were able to celebrate Scharme, the remaining 12 of us, together on the screen.
Here’s what I (Carol) wrote about Scharme at our first meeting:
At the first workshop Scharme sat at the opposite end of the table, facing me. She was quite slim with sculpted brown hair and perfectly arched eyebrows. From the minute we sat down that first morning, I felt her penetrating blue eyes on me, staring and scrutinizing. I sensed desperation in Scharme, as though she were working really hard to stay in her seat, to not jump up and run out of the room.
I remember thinking the day was passing too quickly; there were not enough hours. We were not done, not nearly done, in fact we would never be done. Friendships bonded that day for a reason none of us would have chosen, either now or then. Healing progresses in the presence of unconditional love and understanding. I did not want this day to end.
We had started something beautiful and it was not finished. Carol made a proposal that we meet again in six months; without hesitation we agreed. Another prayer answered, something to hold on to, even something to look forward to.
I remember what I took home with me that day. First, the knowledge that there were women who knew exactly where I was coming from. Second, a tangible tool to use each day — ways to write into and through my grief.
I don’t use these techniques every day, but when I do, the day is better. Morning writings, before I rise, have served me well. These are a way of saying “good morning” to Steve. Some are happy, some are sad; but that spiritual contact with him enables me to begin my day on a more positive note. My writings are a living memorial for Steve each day and a purging of the soul for me.
I have been blessed with this group of women who lessen my pain through writing, sharing, and understanding. May you be so blessed. ~Scharme Shown
Scharme, you opened your summer home on Emerald Isle to us for several retreats, even after you had broken your hip and needed a walker to get around. You fed us fresh corn and mountains of seafood at the beach and hearty wintry meals in Winston-Salem. You were the best hostess ever.
You shared deep, brave words and always listened devoutly to everyone else’s writings.
You put me up overnight on many occasions when the group gathered in Winston. We stayed up late into the night talking, me stretched out on your couch under cozy blankets, you sitting upright, what perfect posture you had, in your wing chair. We looked at pictures, laughed a lot and cried a lot on those special nights. I will always cherish those conversations and our phone conversations too–we always picked up right where we left off. I only wish there had been more of those calls.
We will all miss you so much–your steadfastness, your kindness, and that impish glint in your sparkling eyes. ~Carol Henderson
Our Collective Prayer for Scharme
Source of Light and Life,
We give thanks for our sister Scharme,
gentle and generous, gracious and tenderhearted.
We give thanks for all the time we spent together,
walking and writing our way through grief and life.
We remember her with love and joy –
her Tab-drinking hospitality and charm,
A gentle soul, a fellow traveler –
bright-eyed, competitive, loyal.
A true and lovely friend with that beautiful smile
and beautiful soul.
One who appeared fragile, but was so very strong.
Someone you can call at 3 am.
We wish there was more time to call.
We love you.
~Carol, Julie, Dottye, Beverly, Kathy, Peggy, Beth, Monica, Betsy, Kay, Kelly, Barbara, July 12, 2020
When I think of Scharme, I think of butterflies and how she remembered all of us through her thoughts and gestures despite not being able to be present in all our group gatherings.
I think of sunsets that were so beautiful at her home in Emerald Isle.
I think about games and laughter and love. Food that there wasn’t enough counter space to contain it all. The time we shared our artistic talents at her kitchen table together. Her home was so welcoming.
But most of all, I will never forget her trust in me to read her writing about Steve the first day we gathered at Salem College library 10/2/2002.
Miss her tender and sweet heart. ~Monica Sleap
When I think of Scharme—the first image that comes to mind is of her at the beach house—perched on the cabinet—with her Tab and a small smile on her face. She was never in the midst of the fray but clearly in her happy place. Her generous and gracious spirit will always remain with the sisterhood. ~Kelly Sechrist
I remember a retreat at Scharme’s beach house, where she and I kept ending up in the kitchen with no one else around. It was only a few years after Ryan’s death and we were struggling to help our remaining children to cope. Scharme was so understanding and shared some of what she experienced with her children after Steve’s death. She was so encouraging and, at a very bleak time in my life, gave me a glimmer of hope that we really could find our way through this awful situation. ~Kathy Shoaf
And now she is our Anam Cara
Beautiful in every way
I remember riding with Scharme to a couple of retreats, one of them to Roaring Gap, and we laughed and shared our family stories, even the sad ones. When I moved about four years ago, Scharme came to visit and walked, talked and listened for three miles on the greenway with me. At the end, she told me she had forgotten her walking stick and would have walked farther along had she had one. But she gracefully listened and passed the “talking stick” to me that day when I needed it. Every time I hit the “tab” key on a keyboard, I think of Scharme and her Tabs. Her gentle and generous spirit has taught my heart healing too. ~Kay Windsor
In Memory of Scharme Shown
I wrote on September 29, 2006:
Breath of Sol Retreat
Scharme’s House, “The Sound of Showns”
The text that followed is not what I have chosen to share. This is…
Scharme had opened her beautiful beach house up to us for at least the second time. Our twice-yearly writing retreats were 3 ½ years underway. And this time was extra special. I brought a tag-along guest, our newly adopted, ten-month-old daughter, Hope. Scharme, along with everyone, was so excited to see her, along with Kelly’s newest little one, Katie Gray. Not as much writing at that retreat as playing with babies. And the weather presented us with a typical Crystal Coast, blue-skied, glassy ocean weekend. Carol brought her youngest daughter, Colette to help us with Hope and Katie Gray. Scharme welcomed these three extra guests with her always hospitable, charming, warmer-than-warm smile. It was a special weekend with our Farther Along sisters and tag-alongs.
Two summers ago, I saw Scharme for the last time. I hosted a one-day retreat at my home. The only piece of writing I found from this day is dated July 3, 2018. Someone commented on our Zoom meeting yesterday, as we were recounting memories of Scharme, that she had said that day, “I thought we weren’t going to write.” I didn’t remember that Scharme wasn’t that fond of writing; she always wrote such lovely, reflective pieces that either brought a tear to my eye or made me smile.The prompt Carol gave us on this day is what Fred Rogers said when he received The Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. This quote describes how I, and most likely, all our Farther Along mothers feel about Scharme:“Think of the people who have helped you become who you are, those who cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life.”Thank you, Scharme. I love you and will miss you for you helped us become who we are, you cared for us, and you wanted what was best for us. July 13, 2020 ~Beverly Burton
Noble and humble. Perfectly imperfect.
Had her share of troubles but never whined, complained, or blamed. Rather, she comforted others whose pain she understood intimately.
Also had more than her share of privilege, but did not brag, boast, or diminish those who didn’t. Rather, she shared whatever she could, without fanfare.Joy of living was infectious and impressive. Quiet strength. That twinkle in her eye belied the steely strength of character.
Friendly, loyal, generous, loving, and constant. A Kentucky Lady. A friend in the trenches and a fun companion in delight and frivolity.
My heart aches for the loss of this cherished friend. I am blessed to have known and loved her. ~Dottye Currin
I just know Scharme and I were biggest criers especially in the beginning. Our tears connected us. Such a memory, such a comfort and such an everlasting bond. We shared our depths of despair, and at the same time we were able to share peace and laughter at her beach home. She gave me hope. ~Peggy Clover
Sitting on your porch stoop,
Blueberry close by.
You ask where we’re headed and we laugh.
(Tennis racquets in tow!)
Crab cakes on Emerald Isle.
Ahh…glorious crab cakes.
You and Alice caught the crabs the day before,
In preparation for our writing group’s visit.
Those were the best crab cakes I’ve ever tasted.
I admitted to sneaking to the kitchen during the night and downing a cold leftover one.
We laugh some more.
We remember laughing together months, maybe years, before.
In your back bedroom at the beach.
Rolling on the bed, raucous.
Until we hear Carol call out from the living room,
“What’s so funny back there?”
We almost can’t admit we were knee deep into funeral humor.
We talk about houses, property, common friends and the roses across the street.
We don’t talk about Steve and William.
We keep it light.
A summer day.
My friend and I.
I’ve missed you for a while.
Now I miss you even more.
Scharme Ann Shown of Winston-Salem, NC, died peacefully on Wednesday, July 8th, 2020. Born to Jane and Jesse Wigginton on August 14th, 1938, in Lexington, Kentucky, Scharme grew up in a large, close-knit family and spent her happiest childhood hours with a band of cousins and on horseback. Showing horses by the age of four, she continued to love horses all her life.
After graduating from Henry Clay High School, she attended the University of Kentucky where – thanks to one of those many cousins – she met and married Tom Shown. His medical training in the Army led Tom, Scharme, and their three young children to live in many different places including San Francisco, Colorado Springs, and Germany. Scharme always recalled those years in Europe with deep happiness – she appreciated having her small family together, exploring new cultures, eating new foods, meeting new people, and forging friendships that would last a lifetime.
Scharme’s family moved to Winston-Salem, NC in 1970 and settled in. As her children grew older, Scharme began to build a career around the sale of women’s clothing. She worked as a buyer for clothing shops and also sold lines of clothing from her home, which she turned into a clothing salon seasonally. She loved her customers and they soon became friends. She knew not only what they liked, but also the types of clothes that helped them feel good about themselves. Her daughter recalls realizing early on that her mother was not selling clothes so much as she was helping women feel happy and confident in their own skin. And she was really good at it.
More than anything, Scharme loved togetherness. And it’s her enthusiasm for fun and family and friends that she will be remembered for most. She loved bringing people together – at Christmas parties, on Derby Day, and at the beach in summertime. She loved cooking for a crowd and playing games, especially cribbage. She loved being with both new and longtime friends in her book group, game group, and writing group. She loved being with Kentucky friends and family and betting on horse races at Keeneland. She loved her Christmas trips to Las Vegas with her son Marc and sister Alice. She loved, maybe more than anything else, spending time with her three grandsons, who adored her as much as she adored them.
There weren’t, in fact, many things that Scharme didn’t love. Sushi… snakes… losing at the horse races… anybody trying to help her clean the kitchen. But the one thing that she truly didn’t like was discord. She saw the good in everyone and wanted more than anything for people to see it in each other. She wanted people to look harder to find commonality, to work harder to forgive, to give each other the benefit of the doubt.
She wanted kindness to be the default. And anyone who knew her knows that kindness was her default. Along with generosity. These are the traits that she brought to being a daughter, a wife, a mother, a sister, an aunt, and a friend. She was the person you could call at 3 am and ask for anything. She was the person you wanted at your side when making a difficult decision. She was a person who offered – always – a listening ear, acceptance, and reassurance.
Scharme died completely at peace, ready to be reunited with loved ones who preceded her in death – her son Steve, her brother Sonny and sister Alice, her parents Jane and Jesse, her daughter-in-law Penny, her ex-husband (and yet best friend and life’s love) Tom, and – of course – Blueberry and the many other dogs she has loved.
Scharme leaves behind her son and daughter Marc Shown and Leslie Shown; her three grandsons Walker, Lucas, and Finn Voichick and his fiancee Abigail DuRussel; her son-in-law Jon Voichick; her nieces Lara Ballard and Ashlee Rockers; many deeply loved cousins and friends; and her ever-faithful canine companion Gigi.
Given the times, it’s unfortunately not possible to bring together all those who want to share their love for Scharme and their grief at her passing. It is a loss for all of us to not be able to gather. But we hope you will reach out to one another and find a way to celebrate her life in smaller gatherings.
Scharme liked small gatherings best – she will be there in spirit. And maybe make an exacta wager in her memory on Derby Day – she’d really love that. If you would like to make a donation in Scharme’s memory, please consider St. Jude’s, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105, the ASPCA, Gift Processing Center, P.O. Box 96929, Washington, DC 20077-7127, or the Parkinson’s Foundation, 8830 Cameron Street #201, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
Scharme Wigginton Shown was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky but has been a North Carolinian since 1970. She worked in women’s retail as a buyer and fashion consultant for many years. Scharme is blessed with three wonderful children.
Her daughter Leslie lives in Madison, Wisconsin with husband Jon and Scharme’s three grandsons, Finn, Walker, and Lucas, who light up her life. Her son, Marc, an engineer, lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Steve, her youngest son, took his life on August 23, 1999 at the age of 35.
Although his days on earth were short-lived, Steve’s spirit will always remain in her heart. “Today, where I go Steve goes. Together, we will try to spread love and joy to all whom God places in our path, hoping to make someone else’s life a little better each day,” Scharme said.
Scharme and her friend Mary Lou sold books at the one-year birthday celebration for SECU Family House where proceeds from book sales were donated.
Just after Farther Along: The Writing Journey of Thirteen Bereaved Mothers was published in 2012, the group traveled to France and wrote at Chateau du Pin. Scharme couldn’t come, but we took her with us (see center of table).