I had an entirely different post in mind for today, but circumstances change.
We’ve suffered a loss in our little corner of the world. Our Oklahoma SCBWI group lost its oldest and most enthusiastic member this past weekend. Nita Buckley was 97 years old and rarely missed a monthly schmooze or conference and always had a smile and a fascinating story for any who wished to hear. She did miss our last spring conference due to an unexpected hospital visit. She sent her daughter in her stead to take notes for her so she wouldn’t miss out on anything.
My daughter sometimes accompanies me to our schmoozes. Nita would always smile at Sophie, turn to me and tell me what a lovely daughter I had. Sophie could rarely tolerate this type of compliment from other adults without wanting crawl away in embarrassment, but somehow she found Nita endearing. They enjoyed many in-depth conversations where Sophie hung on her every word.
Sophie was with me when I learned the sad news of Nita’s passing. We cried a bit, hugged each other, and then shared some of our memories of Nita. Sophie told me how delighted she was to learn about Nita’s former career as a professional clown – she even showed the clown ID she always carried portraying her unique clown look to prove it. Sophie was also fascinated by the story of Nikola Tesla that Nita told her. I smiled and remembered when Nita had told me all about her Tesla book many years ago. Sophie then said she was shocked that other inventors, like Thomas Edison, stole some of his ideas because he didn’t file the patent for them.
“Why would they do that, Mom?”
“I don’t know.” Was all I could think to say. Then I wondered if maybe Nita would know.
I found myself tearing up several times today thinking about Nita and about how hard she had worked on that book about Tesla – how it would probably never get published. “What a waste!” I thought at one point.
But was it?
Is that the only reason we write? To get published?
After all, she did at least reach one child with her knowledge. To me, that does count for something.
Besides, that Tesla book wasn’t the only thing Nita accomplished in her years with our group. She continued to learn and grow and try new things. I remember critiquing a rather whimsical picture book she brought to one critique schmooze. I loved it.
In the end, I can only hope that I live as long as Nita lived and that I continue to learn and grow and have half the wonderfully infectious spirit that she did. And above all, I hope that I’m still surrounded by my lovely writing friends.
We all love you, Nita, and we will miss you terribly.
Thank you so much for sharing part of your story with us.