Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pat Conroy RIP reposted from Jungle Red

this is a piece originally posted at jungle red.  i've received a lot of emails about it, and have been touched by so many stories so many of you had to share with me. some were quite moving and very private and not mine to share, but i hope some of them will eventually be shared publicly by their owners.  amazing, isn't it, that this man's reach was so far?  I know he was somewhat aware of what he meant to us, but i have to wonder if he really and truly could even possibly grasp the gifts he gave and how very universally far-reaching they were. 


"Oh, Kaye!" talks about Pat Conroy

I wrote the following on February 15th after reading Pat Conroy's announcement that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

"my heart is broken.

No author has touched me in ways this man has.

Don Barley has never hesitated in saying yes whenever I've said "Pat Conroy is going to be (insert the name of any city you want), can we go?" 

And we would go.

Pat Conroy has influenced many with his writing, he meets and greets every person standing in a line to have a book signed as an old friend and has a laugh and/or a kind word for each and every one.

I have written about him often over the years at my Meanderings and Muses and have posted many pictures I've been lucky enough to have had taken standing by his side.

He's listened to me babble about how much I love him.

He's wished me happy birthday.

When I told him I had written a novel, he asked if I had brought him a copy. I had not, but found a copy in the bookstore we were in in Charlotte, NC. When I gave it to him he asked me to sign it.  Me.  Signing a novel I had written to give to Pat Conroy.  You kidding me?!  WHAT a rush.

I want lots more opportunities to have all these things happen again.

I hope you'll join me in sending Mr. Conroy prayers. If you don't pray, join me in sending good thoughts.

Like he says, he owes us a book and he wants to deliver.

I think he still owes us several, and I think he can deliver."

Well, seems I was wrong. 

This larger than life man, favored son of the south, cherished author and storyteller unparalleled, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer and left a hole in the world.

And I can't even imagine.

No more books from Pat Conroy?

No more poetic, emotionally lyrical words written as no other person could ever come close to writing them?

No more.

Richard Eder wrote of “The Prince of Tides” in The Los Angeles Times. “The characters do too much, feel too much, suffer too much, eat too much, signify too much and above all talk too much.”

Bless his heart. Mr. Eder missed the whole point of Pat Conroy. Those things he scoffed at? Those were the things Pat Conroy fans wanted, loved, needed more of. Waited years for. Those might have been things any other writer could never get away with, but those things kept this fan, along with so many others,  tapping her toe in constant impatient hope of the next Conroy book. Fiction or non-fiction. It didn't matter. Just feed my fix with Conroy words and style.

"Talk too much?!" Ha! Conroy dialogue is magic. No one will ever match his ease of dialogue. No one. There should be an art form named "Conroy-esque Dialogue." Except the only artist who would make it into that esteemed category would be Donald Patrick "Pat" Conroy.

I could go on like this forever. How his words about the lowcountry marshes transport you right there. Have you smelling the marsh, feeling the hot heavy southern air. I could point out a dozen passages from his books where he writes about food that would leave you tasting the briny sweet salty taste of the lowcountry south. Would have you wishing for the next bite.

But.  We'll have no more.  No more occasions of settling into my favorite red chair with my coffee or a glass of wine opening that brand new Pat Conroy book.

No more occasions of laughing out loud or weeping tears onto the pages.

And my heart is broken.

No more drives to wherever his next signing might be.

No more hugs, "How you been?"  Teasing, smiling joy of just being in the orbit of Pat Conroy and his zest for people, and for life.

My heart is broken.

I am grateful beyond words for the opportunities I had to say "Thank You" to Pat Conroy for what he gave me.  Gave all of us.

Oh, how I will grieve for the words he was unable to give us by being called home much too soon.

But - he left us this.  A testament of how very much he loved us.  His readers.  Enjoy this little snippet of Mr. Conroy talking to us with a grand unaffected  fullness from his heart - the only way he knew how to communicate.

Excerpt From Seltzer Panel from USCB on Vimeo.

Donald Patrick "Pat" Conroy
October 26, 1945 - March 4, 2016

“He was a coach, a teacher and a well-loved man. And it is enough, Lord. It is enough.” as said by Tom Wingo in Prince of Tides. 

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