Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lucy's Table: A Celebration

Meet my writing group.

Left to right, Stephanie Farrow, me, Lucy Hampson, Katherine Hauth, and Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. The Autodidactics. We ate, laughed, talked, retreated, argued, read, worried, revised, shared writing and rewriting, commiserated over setbacks and celebrated successes. Sometimes Jeanne Whitehouse joined us, but most often on my trips down for meetings, it was the five of us.

This year we lost one of our own: our dear friend Lucy Hampson.

Lucy gave us laughter. She gave us her wealth of knowledge about children and she gave us her unending concern for young readers: their lives, their minds, and their eccentric genius. She gave us fresh tomato and mozzarella platters, topped with basil straight from the pot on her deck, drizzled with olive oil and loving care. She gave us fires in the winter, and the kettle was always on for tea. She gave her kitchen over to us when we descended upon her. She gave us straight up critiques, told it the way it was. Her questions were always clear and direct, often delivered with a laugh that still rings in my mind. She lit candles when we gathered around her table. She cared deeply about her stories and ours. She and I went to the mat on a couple of occasions. Lucy always said it was just my brown girl self and her white girl self on a collision course, and it was meant to be. I learned so much from her.

We have an assortment of eating habits among us, spanning vegetarianism and allergies to chocolate, wheat, soy, and dairy. Lucy always said if she ever got mad at us she'd serve up cheeseburgers with a chocolate shake and we'd all have to go hungry while she ate!

For thirteen years we gathered at Lucy's table. Hold hands with me around its memory now.


  1. Thanks for posting this and sharing your memories of Lucy.

    Rob Spiegel

  2. I am a friend of Lucy's "from away," as we say here in Maine, who was privileged to attend one of your meetings (though you were not there that evening, Uma). You have caught something very real, very beautiful, the kind of relationship and caring which allows people to grow, to create. Yes, this gift, which it comes to our lives, is worth celebrating. It's good to know that Lucy's nurturing soul will continue to feed and link her friends and colleagues, though we miss her so very much.

  3. I didn't know Lucy, but I feel like I know her a bit now! Thank you!

  4. Thanks Rob and Lauren, and thank you as well to Lucy's friend "from away." I'm sorry I missed you when you visited. There is one story of mine she was passionate about--sometimes more so than me, on days when i was ready to give up the wretched thing! I haven't returned to it, but I know I will, and it will be for Lucy's sake.

  5. I missed the funeral because my husband and I were taking a much needed retreat at a B&B and I forgot it was that weekend. Ironically, there was a woman staying at the B&B who had come into town from California for the funeral. She had known Lucy since childhood. It's a small world and special people help make the gaps between us all that much smaller.

  6. It's the world from which we draw fiction, Carolee, and it's sometimes stranger than any fiction we can dream up.