When I answered the Question of the Month, I wrote about meeting author Pat Conroy. I had no idea he had died a few days before. I learned it from some of your comments on my post.
I didn't intend to be online today. I'm supposed to be on a blogging break so I can get mucho stuff done, but I remembered that for the umpteenth week in a row, I haven't answered a question about grammar.
So I hop online and learn that Mr. Conroy, who told me to call him Pat, who was so kind to me, who wrote such beautiful inscriptions in my copies of his books--he's gone.
In My Reading Life, he writes of his mother: Peg Conroy used reading as a text of liberation, a way out of the sourceless labyrinth that devoured poor Southern girls like herself. She directed me to every book I ever read until I graduated from the eighth grade at Blessed Sacrament School in Alexandria, Virginia. When I won the Martin T. Quinn Scholarship for Academic Achievement, Mom thought she had produced a genius in the rough.
On the title page of my copy of My Reading Life, he wrote
For the love of story,
I think it might have been the love of story that kept him alive. His youngest brother committed suicide. He often mentioned his depression. He grew up with a father who beat Pat until his blue eyes burned with hatred every time his father entered a room. [As] I live out a life too sad by half, he wrote. He thought of Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina when he was suicidal or in despair, and used the characters as a reminder that suicide wasn't the answer.
His mother pointed Pat in the right direction. Pat Conroy wrote of his mother's devotion to words, and her devotion to his reading and writing. She didn't finish college, but she read every book assigned to Pat in his high school and college classes.
Pancreatic cancer took his life.
I don't think I like a world without Pat Conroy.
Loss. So much loss.
And once again, you don't get a post with an answer to a grammatical concern because I have tears for Pat, for the famous artist who treated me as if he were honored to meet me, the man who shook my son's hand and thanked him for bringing me to, what was for me, one of the most magical nights of my life.
Infinities of love,
I take it as an article of faith that the novels I've loved will live inside me forever--Pat Conroy.