Tuesday, December 30, 2014

From Susan Gardner

From: Susan Gardner (to Deje)

Dear Deje,
                  I’m finding it very hard to take in Jim’s death, and if I feel that way, you and your family must feel a hundred fold more sadness. You are a strong and gracious woman, whom I admire as much as I admired Jim. I admired your marriage.

                  I’ve been lost in thought as I recall my memories of him. He was one of the first colleagues to welcome me in 1990, and our relationship was truly collegial as we both took interest in the other’s work: children’s literature, British literature, feminist literature, and, towards the end, nature writing. I loved his first memoir, and encouraged him to follow it up. We discussed if he wanted to write about Pilot Mountain, and I visited one of his classes to discuss American Indian knowledge of nature and landscape. (Jeff Meyer also spoke, about Chinese nature concepts). I also remember his solo singing and piano playing. We also discussed retirement, and his, I know, would have been fulfilling and enriching.

                  When my mother died in Jan. 2012 from injuries in a house fire, I was swamped with condolences, a flood of cards with butterflies, flowers, beautiful sunsets and so on. I was overwhelmed by people’s concern, which helped me to “get through it.” But I don’t think anything can really mend a broken heart, just to ease it. Even after three years of being motherless, I still occasionally want to call or email her about books, our mutual passion.


                  What a very sad holiday season this must have been for you. But I also admire your courage, and I will never forget him.

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