In an earlier blog, I urged everyone who hopes to be a writer to look back and relive their times with those magic people whose influence opened the writer in them. One of my magic people died this past summer. Fortunately, I returned to Ann Arbor this spring and visited her in the living room where she and I often talked into the night. I hope those memories helped carry her through her last days. This blog is for her — in memory of Libby Davenport.
Elizabeth Kingsbury Davenport
In Memory of Libby
Few of us find the moment to tell others how important they have been in our lives. Too often such a statement suggests their life is over, so we keep silent. I feel that regret now, and so, late or not, I write this to you, Libby.
Without you, I would not have become a writer, the activity closest to my heart. I knew and respected you first as Chairman of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party and found you a lively and entertaining neighbor and friend. But it was when I discovered that you wrote stories, or when you discovered I aspired to do the same (I don’t remember which came first) that you became such an essential part of my life.
Those countless evenings spent in your dining room, the latest scribbled versions of our stories spread out before us, made the difference for me, between a vague wish to become a writer and pursuing it with a perseverance that surprises even me. Libby, your certainty that I was a writer and your conviction that I had a story worth telling changed my view of myself, and your stories, deeply meaningful and edged with wit, gave me a goal to aspire to.
This is to say nothing of your friendship. Your warmth, support, and above all your ability to make me laugh at a time when life’s events might have swallowed me, sustained me during the tumultuous years of the late Sixties and Seventies. As Director of Student Activities at the University of Michigan, you lived in the midst of the campus revolutions, and your steady humor and experience carried me through as my marriage and my children’s’ lives were caught in the fray. Such friends are not replaceable, and even today, forty years later, I miss you sorely.
Go in peace, Libby, knowing that you have lived fully and counted deeply in the lives you have touched.
Next week, the power of place in creating my stories.