Forgive the radio silence around here. I've been battling a truly nasty flu since Wednesday of last week and have been struck down hard enough that even the thought of surfing the web has felt overwhelming, let alone trying to form a cohesive thought.
In the meantime, however, I feel compelled to at least try to form a sentence or two in response to an email that found its way to my inbox this afternoon. The email came from my high school and had been sent to alumni to notify us that Marion Jenkins, a woman who had almost certainly taught all those who graduated from Glenlyon Norfolk School English at some point, had passed away. It came as a bit of a shock to me. I don't keep up on much of my high school's news afterall, but strangely I had been thinking of Marion, (though I will always think of her as Mrs. Jenkins), a fair bit lately and had actually been thinking in the back of my mind that I would get in touch with her soon. You see, it looks like this week I will be co-signing my name on a book contract and I had been thinking that, when I finally get through the months of rewrites and edits ahead, a box of real live books will arrive in my life with my name on them. And, while I'll certainly be distributing copies to those near and dear in my daily life, there have been a few people whose influence stretches back a bit more historically. Mrs. Jenkins, the woman who taught me that "anyways" is not a word, is one of the many folks along the way who has inspired my love of language and respect for the written word. While I know that her keen eye for grammar would find many a moment for pause in much of my writing, in particular these off the cuff missives, I would be thrilled to count myself among her previous students to see their name in print on the cover of a real live book jacket and would hope that she too would feel proud of the work she contributed those many years ago to sending me on this journey.
Getting past the flood of memories that email evoked this afternoon, I began to question why I would wait so long to contact her. Why not let her know what I was up to while life was still in progress? Why wait until I felt I had a suitable accomplishment to present? And the more I thought about it, the more foolish it seemed. And so, perhaps a sense of the value in seizing the day will be the final lesson I will add to the others including the rigourous grammar lessons, passion for the classics (including the famed assignment of The Iliad as summer reading), and annual vocabulary workbooks known in their time as "Words Are Important." And, surely when the day finally does arrive that this real live printed book makes its way to my doorstep I will continue to think of her fondly. The email that was sent suggested that donations could be made, in lieu of flowers, to a fund for a book prize in her name at the school, which sounds to me like a smashing idea.