I shouldn’t have said that. Returning to my seat I felt foolish revealing my personal analogy of the afternoon event.
The occasion was well attended by writers from Sarnia, London, Windsor, and other areas. We gathered to pay homage to a prolific writer who had played a vital role in the literary scene for close to fifty years−Peggy Fletcher.
It was a chance to say hello and catch up with friends and acquaintances, and a prime opportunity to meet writers I had heard much about. Mostly from Peggy.
The Ontario Poetry Society honoured her memory with the launch of a book entitled, She’s All Around You. Many of the writers read their contribution to the book during the four-hour tribute.
I declined when asked if I would read. No, I said, I’ll get all blubbery. Perhaps, I would like to read one of Peggy’s poems, she suggested. Oh no, I insisted, that would be worse.
I grieved her passing as if she was family. In effect, she was. A member of my writing family. The matriarch. I’ve mentioned Peggy in several blogs. Two which come to mind are The Write Connection in November 2011, and The Write Outlook in January, 2012.
After the second intermission, the speaker introduced me as the next reader. Seeing my look of surprise, she hesitated. Apparently, there had been a mix-up and my name was on the list. Although I was given the opportunity to decline again, I could not refuse. Yes, I said, I will read. I reasoned that it was meant to be. I would have been disappointed during the drive home had I missed this opportunity to speak about my genuine awe for Peggy Fletcher.
And, so there I was at the front of the room feeling uncharacteristically nervous. I spouted what had been going through my mind as the readers −some sniffling, all trying hard to keep their emotions in check− shared poetry, anecdotes, and accolades about the person who made a difference in their lives. Tears stung my eyes when Peggy’s husband, John Drage, and several of her five daughters shared poetry.
I looked to the audience and began. When my granddaughters, age two and five, are unhappy about something, I say to them: on the count of three, let’s all cry together. That usually brings laughter. At any rate, the tears become smiles. It seemed to me that we were all trying hard not to cry, but maybe we should have all cried together, and then smiled the rest of the afternoon. I’m not sure if my words conveyed my feeling.
No, that wasn’t all I shared. I went on to say that I was reminded of the way I felt at my son’s wedding. During the reception I realized that others outside of our family loved him, too. He was not solely ours. That is how I felt about Peggy. She did not belong only to WIT. She was respected, loved, and cherished by so many others.
I then went on to read my contribution from Peggy’s tribute book, an excerpt from my blog post, The Write Mentor (January 16). Though my voice may have been shaky here and there, I managed to get through it without blubbering.
Thank you to The Ontario Poetry Society’s founder, Bunny Iskov, president, Debbie Okun Hill, and Sarnia branch manager, Rhonda Melanson, for hosting this memorable and successful event.