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
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
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 life, Boyd.
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
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 the legend.
Were you, Bitty, and Margaret considered The Three
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 all.”
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
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
Do you agree with your granddaughter’s
friend, Bennett’s attitude about Carrowmore
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 do?
Be kind to one another. And honest. Those two
things alone will guide you through life.
Thank you for your time and insight!