When I turned 50, friends & family threw a party for me in Washington, DC. One of my dear veteran friends, Redman Flegal, who never reads any of my books, even the ones that feature him, gave me an old copy of Prince of Tides. Inside was an inscribed note from Pat Conroy wishing me Happy Birthday. Only I knew Pat and knew he didn’t write it. Redman and the other veterans make a habit of sending me notes from famous people. They taunt me that way. I sent Pat a note and told him what Red had done. Pat got such a kick out of that, he sent me a note back telling me to tell Red how much he relished that prank.
I will long cherish the many kindnesses Pat extended to me over the years. I will never forget his wisdom, his generous heart, and that laughter of his. He laughed with gusto. I love that in a person.
Tonight I share this poem from Mary Oliver because I think Pat taught all who adored him the gift of wonder:
“Nothing is too small not to be Wondered About” Mary Oliver
The cricket doesn’t wonder
if there is a heaven
or, if there is, if there’s room for him.
It’s fall. Romance is over. Still, he sings.
If he can, he enters a house
through the tiniest crack under the door.
Then the house grows colder.
He sings slower and slower.
This must mean something, I don’t know what.
But certainly it doesn’t mean
he hasn’t been an excellent cricket
all his life.
I know God is in for a treat, now, Pat. He’s, undoubtedly, loved your stories as much as any of us.