Pat Conroy Died and I am Grieving

Why am I choked up when I visit the truth that Pat Conroy has died?  I cry, not because his “promiscuous gift with metaphors” are lost.  They will continue to live through the words and characters he has given us. I cry because writing is a gift given to us by a writer.  Despite the genre, often the words we are given come from the writer’s personal pain and experience.  In the early 1990’s I heard Pat Conroy speak at a lecture series.  I was struck by his affable demeanor as he spoke and the ambiguity of the personality of the writer painting the narratives in his work, but I got it.  I got him. When I was reading “The Prince of Tides” in the late 1980’s I had to physically put down the book and throw up.  I knew those people.  I did more than get physically ill; I cried. Also, I was amused.  He….his writing….affected me.  A good writer does that, makes us feel emotions with their words.  When I heard him speak, I laughed, as he talked about his family dysfunction.  He talked about it humorously.  In 2013 when I read “The Death of Santini:  The Story of A Father and His Son”   I cried more.  His words showed me a son trying to say to his father, “I understand you more now.  I see you differently now.”  I also understood that he and his brother saw their childhood from different perspectives.  His brother didn’t see the same father that Pat Conroy saw which he represented in “The Great Santini,” the abusive dictator of their home.  I don’t think Pat Conroy’s childhood experience changed nor did his perception of his life and those around him.  I think he just understood more, and he accepted it.  I get that.  Thank you, Pat Conroy, for doing so much more than entertaining me.  Thank you for showing me how to represent what pains me and knowing that one day I may understand it. 

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