PLEASANT GARDEN — Once she read Scott Morgan’s blog, listened to his music and saw his artwork, Lisa Sterling knew.
She wanted him for Room 1127. That’s her room.
She teaches art at Southeast Guilford High, and she wanted to see her students paint his way. She wondered if they could connect with a man who could be their grandfather.
They did — in more ways than one. They sat in a darkened classroom, listened to Morgan’s music, watched his YouTube videos and used Sharpies and pens to create work that looked more like Salvador Dali than Bob Timberlake.
Sterling’s students loved it.
Justin Anderson saw it as mystical, and Lauren Summers saw it as “really cool.’’ But Chase Robertson saw it as something else.
“He helped me,’’ says Chase, a rising freshman at Brevard College. “He gets up and does what he loves every day, and I thought, ‘Hey, I always wanted to teach,’ and as soon as I saw him, that set it in stone. He finished the deal.’’
But Morgan never stepped foot into Room 1127. Eight months ago, he left High Point and moved to the west coast of India, to the seaside city of Goa, to finish what he calls his “last days’’ with his girlfriend.
He has inoperable stomach cancer. Last fall, his doctors told him he had two months to live. So, at a High Point restaurant, right after he got the news, he sang about it — full throated, with mike in hand, surrounded by his friends from the High Point Market.
I’m not going to take that bad news
Not with me
He called his tune “Bad News,’’ and he posted it on YouTube.
Very Scott Morgan.
He is gregarious, a gutsy round-faced man whose personality could fill a room. For more than 40 years, he attended the furniture market in High Point. For more than 30 years, he traveled the world. He is a product designer and artist, full of talent and wit.
Today, Morgan lies in bed. His face is gaunt; his arms are as slender as sticks; and according to a published report last week in India, he weighs no more than 77 pounds.
Katy Allgeyer, his girlfriend and “life partner,” is constantly at his side.
Morgan returned to India because he has loved the country ever since he first visited it at age 17. In February, he turned 62. Once he got his diagnosis, he knew he didn’t want to be in an American hospital, hooked to tubes.
He’d already done that once in 2008 during his first bout with stomach cancer. He hated it. This time, tended by Indian doctors, he wanted to follow his own directive of being alert, pain-free and positive.
He has given that attitude a name: poscottivity. And from his bed, with Allgeyer nearby, he painted and wrote and made music that was more spoken than sung.
Halfway around the world, in Room 1127, Sterling and her students listened.
They read his blog, “Going to Goa,’’ painted in his surrealistic style and sent him a photo of them in May standing in Southeast’s courtyard, holding their artwork. The next day, Allgeyer wrote about it on Morgan’s blog.
She titled it “Next Generation Artists.’’
With school out, they still remember.
For Lauren, a rising freshman at UNC-Asheville, it’s a video. Morgan kept saying, “Keep Walking.’’ Lauren liked it. For Chase, it’s a song. Morgan kept speak-singing, “13,000 Miles.’’ Chase liked that, too.
A zillion, billion smiles
Always around with you
As for Justin, he remembers the paintings, and this summer, he knows what he needs to do: write a movie script, start a photography portfolio and sketch. Just like Chase, Justin feels inspired.
“I have time, and he doesn’t, and it made me feel like I should be doing something,’’ says Justin, 17, a rising senior at Southeast. “You know what I’m saying?’’
“I mean, when they get sick, most people dream about places they want to go, but he said this is what I want to do and not be confined to a hospital, and when it’s time to pass on, I want it to be beautiful. I think that’s poetic.’’
Today, Morgan can’t talk or trade emails. Allgeyer says he’s too sick.
Like her students, Sterling hopes for the best. She’d love to see Morgan beat the odds. But whatever happens, ever since a friend told her about his blog, she knows she’ll incorporate him into her lesson plans.
In Room 1127, she sees Morgan as vital. And it’s not just because of his artwork.
“You know, kids are looking for role models, and I don’t know how many times they’d meet a guy like Scott,’’ says Sterling, who has taught art at Southeast for 20 years. “It’s a rarity. At Southeast, we’re a school where country kids meet country club kids, and they connected to him.’’