An Interview with CeeCee Purnell,
the Lead Character in Dreams of Falling.
those who do not know CeeCee Purnell she is a reflection of
her times, growing up during the 1950s and 1960s in the South.
Her life is a plateau, with many ups and downs. Growing up
and living in Georgetown, South Carolina, she raises her late
friend’s daughter, Ivy, and her daughter, Larkin. CeeCee
is grateful that Larkin has returned home after nine self-exiled
years to help locate her missing mother, Ivy. Larkin finds
out that in 1951 three best friends, Ceecee, Margaret and
Bitty have just graduated from high school with all their
dreams ahead of them. CeeCee has agreed to open up about her
experiences and what happened during those turbulent years.
It must be bittersweet for you to have your granddaughter
returning home, while your daughter, her mom, is trying to
survive a horrific accident. It must have brought back memories
from 1951 when your life changed forever. Thank you for consenting
to this interview because you can be an inspiration as someone
who had hard knocks but survived.
Do you see yourself as a product of the 1950s?
Definitely. Especially Southern small-town 1950s. Being the
only daughter of a pastor, I was definitely sheltered from
the realities of the world outside of Georgetown, South Carolina.
Do you regret going on the road trip after graduating high
No. I wish I could go back and change a few things, but if
I hadn’t gone, I never would have met the love of my
Do you think writing on ribbons and sticking them in a tree
is rather nerdy?
I’m not sure what you mean about the word ‘nerdy’?
If you mean fanciful or even a little far-fetched, then
yes. It’s like blowing on a dandelion and making wishes
on the seeds—we know it’s not real, but we can’t
help but believing there’s a small part of truth in
Were you, Bitty, and Margaret considered The Three Musketeers?
We were never called that, but I felt that way many times
throughout our childhoods together. We were rarely apart,
and believed we really were “all for one, and one for
How would you define friendship?
A good friendship can be defined as loving someone unconditionally---even
when things in your own life are sliding into the ocean and
all has been stripped away, you can still be loving, giving
and kind to your friends.
How did it feel to be a surrogate mother to Margaret’s
daughter Ivy and a surrogate grandmother to her daughter Larkin?
I don’t feel as if you need to be related by blood to
feel a kinship with someone. I was raised with two younger
brothers, but always felt as if Margaret and Bitty were my
blood sisters. My mother was a wonderful example of how to
mother, and I suppose that’s why when I saw two children
who needed mothering, it was easy for me to step in.
Do you agree with your granddaughter’s friend,
Bennett’s attitude about Carrowmore and developers?
Absolutely. Few people seem to realize anymore that our history
lives on in old buildings, and that once they are gone, along
with the stories and memories that are contained within their
walls, they are gone forever.
Do you wish Bennett and Larkin hooked up?
When, while back in high school?
No. They were friends first. It’s only when they
became adults and Larkin could see Bennett with adult eyes
did it make sense for their relationship to move into something
deeper. And neither Larkin nor Bennett are the ‘hooking
up’ kind of people—their relationships are meaningful.
Do you think it is good or bad to keep a secret?
It depends on the motive. If it’s to protect a
loved one, then it can be excused and/or forgiven. If it’s
used for subterfuge, or to keep hiding something that might
help another person, then no.
Does Bitty still play an important role in your life?
I think it’s natural for people who’ve known
each other for so long to get on each other’s nerves
sometimes, just as it’s natural for your love to grow
to something deeper. There is something special about someone
whose known you your whole life, knows all your secrets and
flaws, yet loves you anyway.
After the accident and Ivy unconscious, was it hard to see
her physically there, but unable to communicate with her?
Of course—she’s always been like a daughter
to me. The one thing that got me through those early days
was believing she would wake up and be able to answer all
the questions we had for her.
Do you think dreams really do come true?
Only when hard work and determination are added to the dreaming!
Elise: Who taught Larkin how to shag dance?
I’m thinking probably her mother, or Bennett. They
used to have impromptu dance/ barbecue parties when they lived
near each other.
Elise: What do you do for fun?
I love to work in my garden and of course I love to bake.
I always make sure I have something in the freezer waiting
to be defrosted in case of unexpected company.
What are your interests besides baking and gardening?
I love keeping in touch with my friends and being an
active member of my church and community.
Elise: Are you content with your life?
Absolutely. I’m surrounded by family and loved
ones. I’ve had losses, but I’ve also had a great
deal of love and blessings in my long life.
Elise: If you could put another ribbon in the tree
what would it say?
I wish Larkin would stay in Georgetown forever!
Elise: Is there anything you want to add, if so please
Be kind to one another. And honest. Those two things
alone will guide you through life.
Thank you for your time and insight!