Siege Diaries 8/18/2021

Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: Where can I better play to my strengths?

Today, I will let that question hang in the air, as there are more needful things to be said.

What if you stood on the precipice of fame, praised for your skill with words by some of the greatest, and turned away, serving a greater vocation?

That was Mary. Her legacy is as a teacher of French and a writer of articles within the SCA, but a prominent fantasy author once called her the best she’d ever seen. But that was not her calling

Some search for years and years fruitlessly for the chance she had, but for her, the gift of greatest worth was the ability to teach, to touch others, like ripples spreading ever wider. Her gift of language would be shared in different ways, no less valuable.

She never stopped writing, but her fame would be of a different kind, less blazing hot than gently radiant.

I recall the articles she wrote for the Pennsic Independent over the years–many designed to help kids enjoy the War, written in a way that only someone who had taught young people for many years could do. But also wrote outstanding features articles and interviews. I rarely took out a red pen for her work. And she was a fabulous proofreader and editor in her own right. One year, we tried to split our roles, with her taking on the EIC role on alternate days That was hard for us both–we had become accustomed to our usual roles. But at one point I had hoped she might be able to take over the EIC job from me, but her husband then suffered a stroke, and then age began to catch up with her as well. And then she received her cancer diagnosis.

When I heard she was going into palliative care a little under three months ago, I took the time to tell her how much I’d always admired her writing and her editing skills. That’s when she told me she always worried about measuring up to me. I am glad I was able to tell her then that she always had–going far beyond simple “measuring up”. I wish I’d done so earlier, perhaps on one of those warm August nights, sitting around the PI trailer trading editing clipboards. But in the midst of the work, we so often do not take the time for praise and thanks, or to acknowledge the privilege of being among people who are so full of skill and talent. And then, one day, the moment is gone forever, the opportunity slipping out of reach.

Mary had only two awards: Her AoA, and the Silver Crescent, the East Kingdom’s high merit award for service. But I know few other people who exemplified the ideal of the Pelican, nourishing her young through sacrifice and service, more than she did. The Society is lesser for the fact that she never received that accolade.

Tonight, she belongs to the stars–the same stars her husband so often wrote about. And one is lit for her here. I will remember those Augusts of some 19 years together, and her memory is a blessing.