As I mentioned in previous blog post, this year I was Chair of the committee for the James River Writers Emyl Jenkins Award. [And if I didn’t mention, I Meant to. Maybe.] The awards were presented at the JRW June on the James fundraiser event last week. [Get the James River Writers newsletter so you can put on calendar to some join us for all the fun next year!]
I was requested along the way to write up my thoughts about Emyl, and it of course, brought up thoughts about Emyl. That I’ve not thought of in a long time. Or perhaps tried not to.
Her stepdaughter Erika and I were talking about Emyl. And of course we were laughing. That’s the legacy I think Emyl wanted to leave - as Emyl’s husband Bob said in his great remarks the other night, ‘Tinkerbell’ Emyl wanted everyone to smile and think happy thoughts.
Erika and I were laughing at our remembrances of Emyl, always bustling into places with her hair flying around her, and patting it into place when she stopped to take a breath to speak to someone.
And talking about how she always seemed to able to talk Anyone and Everyone into …well, into anything and everything. [I have only met 1 exception to that] I remember standing with a couple of people one time and we were talking about Emyl … probably, if I remember it right, at all the stuff we had going on, and what all Emyl had managed to talk us into doing, and one of them said, It is like an out of body experience. Emyl is so charming and lovely and then you wake up next morning going ‘NO! I agreed to do What!” There wasn’t even any hangovers involved that I knew of, even though Emyl certainly believed in ‘spirited’ writers fluid.
Erika was laughing about what all Emyl had talked her into. And yet there’s always a tinge of sadness in our eyes I know when we talk of Emyl. Of a too abrupt parting. And someone leaving our lives too soon. To open up the memories, or emails, too much is still too painful.
And yet, we still remember and talk of her. And there is always laughter. Even if the eyes are tearing up, there has to be laughter. So Emyl is still getting her way. ;)
I’ve read somewhere that as long as we speak someone’s name and remember them that they will continue to live.
I know Emyl still does for a lot of people.
Beyond her writing, numerous fiction and nonfiction books, she lives on as a vibrant person that meant something to the people she met. And more importantly, she make people feel they meant something. And that they, and their writing, was important.
She had such a talent for reaching out to writers and pulling, or pushing, them out of their self-imposed aloneness, to encourage, support, and challenge. For all her interests, and she had Many, from working with the Governors Mansion committee with their antiques, to gardening, to loving and working with the Library of Virginia, and to luckily, being a part of James River Writers, she always seemed to find the time somewhere to encourage another writer.
To make them feel that they had a voice. And one that should be heard.
Thankfully there are others that, though they might not be Emyl, and not quite fill the gap she left, they are at least doing something to help writers. To encourage. To support. To hear their voices.
James River Writers certainly tries to do all that, and recognizes such people, and organizations, each year that do such things for writers. JRW does that with the Emyl Jenkins Award to honor the woman that did all that and more.
And is still missed and thought of. And spoken of.
Not a bad legacy to leave, huh.
More than all her wonderful books, she leaves a part of her that will always be remembered. And talked of.
You’ve got time to think of someone, or an organization, that you can nominate for the Emyl Jenkins Award for next year.
So start jotting notes now.
As Emyl’s husband said, she would be embarrassed by all this hoopla with her name on it, but she would also be pleased.
And I hope, very very proud, of all the legacies she’s left behind with and in all of us.