I appear at many craft shows and arts festivals in eastern Ontario, particularly during the summer months. It's something I enjoy doing because it gets me out from behind this keyboard and gives me a chance to meet people and talk about what they like to read.
After having done it for several years, I've reached the point where faces are becoming familiar. People often come up to the table and tell me they enjoyed the book they bought the last time, and do I have a new one they could get? I appreciate the positive feedback because writing is a pursuit that takes a lot of courage some days, and it really helps to get a little pat on the back now and again.
One couple in particular became especially familiar. The woman was the reader, and each time I made an appearance in the Kemptville area she came out, just to remind me how much she loved my writing and to check whether I had a new one she hadn't read yet. Her husband mostly smiled and nodded as she talked to me. "She really loves your stuff," is about all he'd say. Coming up to my table was her thing, it was something they obviously planned in advance, and he clearly enjoyed watching her do it.
Last winter at the St. Michael's High School Christmas craft show they came up to my table again. She talked away to me as always, and was pleased to find SORROW LAKE, which she hadn't read yet. When I autographed her copy, I felt bad that I had to ask her name once again before signing it. I've never been very good at putting names to faces, and as she left the table I made a little vow to myself that I would remember her name the next time. Connie. Connie. Connie. The next time I saw her, I'd say, "Hey, Connie! How are you?"
This morning I delivered a presentation to the Probus Club in Kemptville. Before it began, a man walked up to the front of the hall and asked if I recognized him. His name tag said JIM and I knew the face, but....... He pulled out his phone, and as he flipped through pictures looking for one of his wife, I knew it was Connie's husband. I said, "You're Connie's husband! How is she?"
"She passed away," he said. "Several months ago."
I was devastated. I'd spent the winter keeping her name and face within close reach in my head, waiting for our next encounter so that I could give her a little something back for all her enthusiasm and loyalty. I waited too long.
So this blog post is dedicated to the memory of Connie Haldersen, a sweet person I would have liked to have known better. Thank you, Connie, for all the pats on the back you gave me, thanks for reading my books, thanks for taking the time to come out and tell me how you felt about them. Thanks for being the kind of person whose husband could enjoy her little enthusiasms with so much affection.
My deepest condolences to you, Jim.
Boy, I sure wish Connie would be able to read my next one when it comes out. Fingers crossed, I think she would have liked it, too.
Rest in peace, dear.