Born July 16, 1928, Carmelle L. Binns entered this world the same way she left it, under that single spotlight on the stage that was this world. As the curtains opened and the orchestra began to play, her seven acts began. The audience sat in silence as the production started. Her storyline ran from a busy childhood sat in the hills of West Virginia. Along with nine siblings and two proud and hardworking parents, the cast used the countryside for their pleasure.
As the scenery changes on the stage, we the audience are transported from childhood imagination to early adulthood transition. From working many jobs and living in some of our country’s biggest cities, we watch in awe and laughter at the antics our lead character encounters. She takes us from her experiences in the Army to her work in the New York theater scene. From traveling across the country and beyond its borders, we sit glued to our seats in anticipation of the next act.
Just when you’d expect an intermission, the play moves swiftly on to our lead moving back to her hometown to be with her family. We watch as she struggles at times to assist in the care of her parents. The comedy ensues as she helps to teach and instill her imagination and personality into all of her nieces and nephews. We watch and laugh as the play portrays all the shenanigans her and her little ones get into. Our laughs and cries continue as we watch her help raise the kids into their own adulthoods.
The play continues into more acts of watching her work diligently with different careers, all the while continuing her theater career that had carried on from her time in the city. Our lead retires and begins her life in relaxation.
The play approaches its final scenes as we watch her surrounded by the large and ever-growing cast of characters that are her family. The orchestra begins to slowly come back to life, first softly and then gradually growing louder as the scene begins to fade. Back into that single spotlight, shining on a single backdrop of a massive tree named Mr. Greenleaves. Standing in front of it is our lead, Carmelle. As the spotlight fades out over her, the curtains close and in the distance we hear that old familiar whistle, “wheet whew, Carmelle?”
We stand and applaud the amazing production that we just witnessed. What seemed like just minutes could have carried on much longer. Love and miss you Carmelle. Pass the wine and popcorn!
The finale was Feb. 13, 2014.
At her request, her body was donated to West Virginia University hospitals. A memorial event will be planned at a later date.