There are people that come into your life that make a real impact and leave you with wonderful memories of special times together. Such was my experience with Dixie Carter. She is most fondly known for her role as the sassy Julia Sugarbaker in the television show Designing Women.
I met her several years ago at Southern Lady Celebration, an event hosted by our company. She was our honored guest and Southern Lady of the Year. Dixie told stories of her childhood in rural Tennessee and delighted our audience. Dixie once sang for her mother on an episode of the show, and she recounted how it thrilled her mother. Dixie had a beautiful voice. When she finished her presentation, she asked me to come to the stage and sing “Amazing Grace” with her. As I walked up there I was really unnerved; I play the piano but never sing in public, much less on the stage with Dixie Carter. As we sang, the audience rose to their feet and sang with us. The overwhelming emotion of that evening will last a lifetime for me. We kept in touch and had opportunities to visit several times during the next few years. I loved our friendship, and she always had the most encouraging, uplifting things to say.
I called Dixie one day and told her of a friend of mine whose daughter wanted to be an actress and asked if she would recommend an agent for young actresses. She said she would do even better than that—she would take “Miss Brynn” to lunch. They met at a café in Hollywood, and Brynn’s life was changed forever. Dixie opened her heart to a beautiful young lady who experienced the vivacious Dixie Carter that had become my friend.
When Dixie called to tell me she was very ill and dying, I couldn’t believe it. We had talked only a short while before about her new, delightful role on Desperate Housewives as an old, cranky, plotting lady. But that day, her call was somber. After her passing, I think back on her taking time to share her family, her faith, and her love of life with people she encountered. This tremendously famous lady loved life. And amongst her intense schedule, she took time to change lives along the way, including a young Miss Brynn.
Greatness is found in the words that we speak from our hearts to encourage and affirm our friends and family. I will always remember the beautiful smiles, her Southern drawl, and her love of life. I am blessed to have called her my friend and to have shared a small part of her life. She will always be missed, and my life is enriched having known her.