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Friday, February 19, 2016

Rest Well, Nelle Harper Lee. You Changed The World

Such a wistful sadness at the news that Nelle Harper Lee has died. I know she was elderly and frail, but her sister, Alice, lived to 103. I was hoping for much the same for Nelle, and still dreaming that someday, I might meet her, something I've wanted since I first read To Kill A Mockingbird at the age of eight.

For years, as a teenager, I imagined that meeting. "Ms. Lee," I would ask. "What is keeping you from writing more? You are so brilliant. I have read your essays. Your voice, your humor, your insight, we all need it. Only you can give that particular perspective. How I'd love to read more."

And then, miraculously, we'd get to hear read more of her work.

And yes, this year, miraculously, we did--not the mature work that I had hoped for, Go Set A Watchman, but a young woman's passionate, rough-hewn outrage as she discovered that the good, kind-hearted people of her childhood had blinders on when it came to the horrific effects of bigotry.

I am so grateful to have been able to read that. I was so glad to see the world that she came from, and how she revolted against it. I was so intrigued to read in biographies about how she managed to come home to that world whose narrowness her younger self railed against, not only to move back to it, but clearly to find a way to live joyfully there.

What a great lady you were, although you would not have ever wanted to be a  lady. Rest in peace. I hope that you and your whole family: Sisters, Alice and Louise, brother Edwin, your mother Frances and your beloved father Amasa, are all together, with your uncle--maybe not your aunt--who knows. Maybe Truman Capote is there, too, with all his wounds made whole. May your memory be a blessing for us all.

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