Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Time For Us: Remembering Beverly Barton

A time for us some day there'll be
When chains are torn by courage born
Of a love that's free
A time when dreams so long denied
Can flourish as we unveil
The love we now must hide

A time for us at last to see
A life worthwhile for you and me
And with our love through tears and thorns
We will endure as we pass surely
Through every storm
A time for us someday there'll be
A new world, a world of shining hope
For you and me

There are seasons for everything, spring, summer, autumn, and winter. There are food seasonings which make food eatable. There are rainy seasons, droughts, white-outs, tornados, earthquakes and hurricane seasons. And last, but not least, there are the seasons of life, creation, birth, teenager, adult, middle aged, and elderly. There is ultimately life and death, something we at Okay, Listen Here have experienced in the past week with one of our own beloved friends, Beverly Barton.

There is the knowing and a time to blog.

The earth tilts on axis, rotating like a top, spinning as it travels around the sun. We don’t know this is happening, though the gravitational pull experienced as a result keeps our feet on even ground and the tides on schedule. We DO know Darwin's Theory, if something drops, it will plummet, and if you trip you WILL fall. We know that atmosphere protects the earth from the universe and the sun. We KNOW these facts! Lately, however, I’m left wondering if the top isn’t spinning to tell me I’m in an alternate universe. As Leonardo D'Caprio did in the movie, Inception, the news of Beverly's passing has had a staggering affect on me. I can't help wondering if this is real.

In the knowing, one does not easily find acceptance.

I’m preparing for the Heart of Dixie’s 14th Annual Romance Readers’ Luncheon. This happens once every year. The event is the highlight of HOD’s calendar. I’ve worked on making sure everything is in place for HOD luncheons 4 years running. I KNOW how things work, when they’re supposed to be done, who needs to do them and why. A year’s worth of planning has gone accordingly. This year’s luncheon proved to be our most anticipated event. But then my axis spun off-kilter as if an asteroid hit, leaving a tremendous void.

In the knowing, one does not easily understand.

When my father died three years ago, I understood that I HAD to make a trip to Orlando just three days after his death. I don’t know how I did it, but I maintained decorum and kept my emotions under control so that my baby could perform at a national cheerleading competition and not see me fall to pieces. You see, if she had seen how much my father’s death hurt, she might not have performed to her utmost potential, which ultimately would then have endangered the entire team’s chances of making the final round. I did what I had to do then, while also planning my first luncheon. And I will do it again.

In the knowing, one does not easily function.

A top spins only as long as its rotation allows. People continue to work. Food continues to be cooked at fast food restaurants every day. And 174 people will be massing upon the convention center downtown expecting HOD will deliver another fun-filled event. How then, when we’ve lost one of our own most beloved authors, do I plan and prepare? We’ve initiated new things this year, Highland Warrior Simon Bade, a photographer and a romance book cover, and we’re raffling a Nook, not to mention over 40 raffle baskets, and 22 Door Prizes.

There is knowing loss even as life goes on.

How do you go on when your heart is breaking? How is it that people are laughing when you grieve? How is it that I can go outside and feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my skin and know that I’m alive, when I’m broken? I’m not alone. Heart of Dixie has over 70 members. RWA has over 10,000. Beverly’s books touched millions of readers. And yet, I feel her loss deeply.

You see, I cannot claim to have known Beverly Barton as well as others can. The two of us shared a special bond, a bond that began nearly 6 years ago, when I first joined Heart of Dixie. Beverly was one of the first to greet me. She understood right away that I’d sacrificed my dreams to raise my family. She had done the same. Family meant everything to Beverly, as so many others have said. And family history meant even more. She was a 6th generation southerner with a love for the south that, I dare say, went unmatched. The advice she has given me has made me a better person as well as a better writer. When I needed guidance, Beverly was there. When I had something to celebrate, she was one of the first to contact me. As newsletter editor of HOD’s monthly newsletter, The Heart Monitor, I kept in contact with her every month. Beverly loved HOD with a passion and sought ways to help members find the success she’d been lucky to achieve.

Vivacious, quirky, witty, sassy, loving and classy, friend, mentor, and proud southern belle, Beverly Barton, was all this and more. What an inspiration!

Beverly has left a legacy for us by lifting the bar higher than ever thought possible. You can be a published author, carry yourself with dignity, touch readers, mentor new blood, perceive the world to be inclusive, dare to live beyond your dreams, and share it all with those you love. How? By recognizing the seasons for what they are and becoming a starry guide to those around you. Life happens. Death is inevitable. What lies in between is the legacy that lives on in each of us.

I grew up listening to Donny Osmond sing, A Time For Us. I played it over and over again. The melody is haunting, the lyrics gripped my heart, and it is what I hear in my head as I remember Beverly, the woman with sparkling laughter and a contagious smile. I am a better woman, wife, mother, friend, writer, and mentor because I knew her and was blessed to have called her friend. Now it's time for me to pay it forward and keep her legacy alive.

What legacy do you want to leave behind?

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post, Kathy! I'm trying not to cry as I type this.

    I will share something Beverly told me during an email exchange not long after I joined HOD. She told me that success is sweet at any age--this because I was feeling a bit down about pursuing the path to publication so late in life, after raising a family, etc. She reinforced a belief that I had tried to live by--the belief that you don't have to realize all of your dreams by the time you're thirty.

    Our dreams are what compel us to reach for the stars, to strive for perfection as we transform inspiration into creative manifestations of our imagination. Age matters not. So, to answer your question, I want those who follow in the wake of my life to ride the wind of their dreams and work toward their realization with no thought to their age, for age is but a number in the grand scheme of things.