“If you’re available, life gets huge.”—Bill Murray
It has been about a year since the author Pat Conroy left the planet. I was out of the country at the time of his death and didn’t hear the news for several months. I was surprised it took that long in light of the fact my sister, Becki, and I discuss this titan of Southern literature the way teenage girls once discussed Justin Bieber.
Yesterday, I finished reading a collection of his blog posts, speeches, fiery editorials and even letters to his grandkids. It was put together by his wife, Cassandra King, and his editor, Nan Talese.
Called A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life, the book re-energized my love affair with Pat, with writing and with recognizing beauty where it’s at.
Here are my four favorite reasons that his love molecules will always live in my heart.
1. Pat Conroy’s 11 books, of course, are the obvious reason. His eloquent words in Prince of Tides, Beach Music, The Great Santini and all the rest, introduced us to magic and to a sense of place and to humanity at it weakest and at its best.
2. He was a southern white boy who carried on his own personal Civil Rights battle, even losing a teaching job because of his bull-headed belief in equality. He said when Barack Obama was elected, it was one of the happiest days of his life. In a 2010 speech at the Penn Center, an African-American cultural and education center near Frogmore, South Carolina, “Yes, I was fired, humiliated, and run out of town because I believed what Martin Luther King believed. Yes. They got me good, but on this joyous night, let me brag to you at last: Didn’t I get those sorry sons of bitches back?”
3. He loved with an energy so powerful it juxtapositioned everything. His book signings were joyous love fests. His dinner parties were wild, fun and raucous. He loved books, authors, independent bookstores. He loved his family, even in all its crazy incarnations. He was generous and loyal, some would argue to fault.
4. And lastly, one night he was having dinner at Elaine’s in New York with Joan Didion and her husband John Gregory Dunne. He stumbled into the bathroom and found himself at the urinal, peeing next to the gilded tough guy Mr. T. Without missing a beat, he said, “Mine’s bigger.” Mr. T busted out laughing and Conroy, of course, added one more friend to his repertoire.
One person. One moment at a time. That’s how we do it!
Pam Grout is the author of 18 books including E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality and the recently released, Thank and Grow Rich: a 30-day Experiment in Shameless Gratitude and Unabashed Joy.
Please leave politics out of your posts and stick to spirituality. Using your platform for anything but love, peace and inspiration seems to me to be the antithesis of your objective.
Well aren’t you special. Clearly you feel superior – I’ll bet you even meditate! After you’ve written 15 books and are are loved by millions – then we’ll care to hear your comments.
Be like Thumper – if you can’t say something good, then don’t say nothin’ at all.
You completely missed the point of her post Renee. That is very sad and its not polite to criticize an acclaimed author because you didn’t understand or agree with her post.
Reading this just as u prepare to go to bed. Thank you for your beautiful reminders Pam! That love is all it takes and it’s such a powerful force. One person at a time reminded me if the story about the little boy who kept throwing back one stranded star fish at time , back into the ocean. Yes! That’s how we all can make the difference! Much love and blessings!
Pam, have you ever read or cooked from his cookbook? It is a gas! Loads of fun and really good dishes. If you like, I can recommend a recipe or two or three! I live here in the Lowcountry of SC. Today it is in the low 70’s, sunny, holiday, I am making crab cakes, roasted asparagus with dill sauce and a rose chilling in the pool. The party for two begins at 2:00.
Love this tribute==
Oh my God, Pam, I finally found someone else who adores Pat Conroy the same way I do! Thank you for your Post. I was devastated when I read Pat Conroy had died. His last book, ‘South of Broad’ is such a wonderful book! I have read it three times. It is now in my favorite book catagory. All of Pat’s books are my favorites. And Yes, this writing of yours surely belongs in your Spiritual writings. I GET IT! His books, his description of a Copperhead snake as an October Path in the woods is Spiritually inspired. His sentence structure and descriptions are straight out of his Spiritualty. Thank you. I would love to read the last book by his wife. I shall search for it! Thanks again, Love to you! Jenny Markakis
Oh hell yeah!
Inspiring post, as always. Beautiful tribute. I love this line, especially: “One person. One moment at a time. That’s how we do it!” <3 Off to carry on with love + delight.
Inspiring post, as always. Beautiful tribute! I love this line, especially: “One person. One moment at a time. That’s how we do it!” Thank you. Now I’m off to carry on … one moment at a time kindness and love. <3
A beautiful post full of love and inspiration…a truly SPIRITUAL piece about Pat Conroy!!! Those who think it’s anything but are certainly missing the point. We are ALL being called to awaken to our true divine, loving essence. Thank you Pam for leading the way!!
Great story tellers change our perspectives, and our lives.Thanks for sharing these anecdotes- made me laugh, and think!Hugs, Shoshanna
leave out the politics!!!!
that’s a lot of exclamation points. have you asked yourself why this affects you so … her talking the politics of another person when the point is what a great life he led?
Thanks for the reminder Pam and Pat, “One person. One moment at a time. That’s how we do it!” Much love and thank you for being my inspiration. Always the right words at just the right time.
while living in Austin about 15 years ago, I heard him being interviewed by someone who obviously did not do her homework. When she asked him, “What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from your Dad?” His response was, “I’m still waiting on that one.” His writing was such that I go back and reread lines because they’re so lyrical.
I reread them too, because they are so beaitiful! Stirs the soul,literally ( I laughed out loud when I read your post, about the advice Pat received from his Dad)
. I can intuit Pat’s answer. jenny
Loved learning more about Pat Conroy. But I don’t understand how a dead man can be your president?? It seems to be a very underhanded insult to our new president who we the people chose. What is your message here?
Sent from my iPhone
Enjoyed this very much, Pam. Thank you for sharing Pat Conroy with us.
Thank you Pam for this lovely tribute to Pat Conroy. I, too, recently found out he died. I’ve got “Lowcountry Heart” on hold at the library. Now listen to Fred Neil sing “The Water is Wide”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj_C8Yw6RMY
I’m with you all the way!!! One person at a time, one mind, one heart at a time. It’s all about the love. Don’t let them get you down.
Wow. What a lovely musing on a beautiful man.
And then another – WOW. The reason our world feels so empty and ugly and disconnected is because of the unprivileged ability for ordinary people to speak vitriol at will. I ask all of you:
When did anyone give you the right to be so vicious?
And: I would bet the lives of all humanity that 90% of the hate speech would never manifest in one on one contact. Cowards. That’s our latest evolution.
“You write your snide bullshit from a dark room because that’s what the angry do nowadays.” – Social Network
Love Pat Conroy too. Beach Music is a stunner of a book. The interesting brothers in the book were too much!!
Forgiveness and redemption; themes of all his novels.
Every once in awhile when I miss dad, I google his name and go to page 10 or 11 to just read stuff and remember him. I found this post today. I have never heard the Mr. T story and can’t wait to tell my kids. The whole post is so sweet and what I hope to find at these times. I’m not sure if you’ll see this reply so late in the game, but thank you.
Oh My Word! I thought this sounded a little familiar. I checked the comments and there I was with mine. How cool! If you ever find your way to the Lowcountry, let me give you a tour and we can lunch with some real characters. Love and Laughter Baby!