Sunday, September 09, 2007

Madeline L'Engle's time has passed and I regret I never wrote

With the death of Luciano Pavarotti and Madeline L'Engle two icons of my childhood have died one day apart. Madeline L'Engle was primarily famous for her children's books especially a Wrinkle In Time.

I read her books relatively late in my young reading life. I didn't move to the US until I was nine but I remember Meg well. A Wrinkle In Time was the first book I read about someone who was awkward and angry at a world who didn't accept her but lived in a quirky intellectual family that clearly loved her but didn't always understand her either. Like Meg's family my parents reacted with bafflement that the world didn't appreciate my wit and intellect and in fact teased and derided the very things my parents valued the most about me.

In many English children's books that I read such as The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe or even Harry Potter the parents are absent and I could not relate at all to Judy's Blume. But Meg's parents were so present and yet so helpless to help Meg with her difficulties in school. If my life was a novel or movie the book would have launched a grand scene of understanding between me and my parents. Instead it began a long journey in which like Meg I slowly realized that my parents were flawed people who would need work and understanding to get to a place where they had some idea of who I was.

In college I and some friends actually drove from Philadelphia to Maine to hear L'Engle talk. The two things I remember were how bright the fall leaves were compared to the more drab colors in Philly. And the revelation that L'Engle was also a staunch Christian and writer of adult books. She talked about how God was everywhere. I went outside in nature and I saw deity that day. And began a different journey.

I have few regrets in life but I think one of them is that I never wrote to her and told her the two ways she impacted my life. I don't think much would have come of it but I do believe now in telling people my important truths. I always meant to but I thought I had more time. In college I had classified her as "old" but I didn't realize she was in fact truly old and that she might die if I waited twenty years.

I have not launched a grand campaign to write to my childhood icons but I am more aware now that they could pass away. I'm still working on the more immediate problem of arranging my son's special education but if my blogging causes a small ripple in the universe than I do ask the universe to please let them live just a little longer at least until October when I can think about writing to people about matters other than my immediate family.

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