You may have noticed that I’ve recently cancelled a few events.
Earlier this month, my mother entered hospice care and I returned home to help navigate her end of life care.
In the early hours of the morning on July 26th, Mom left us after a long journey with Parkinson’s. She had a good last week with visits from friends and family.
At the end of the day, Dad told her, “I’m glad you took that dare to marry me.”
Before she retired, she was an arts administrator, doing fundraising and creating grants for artists. She believed in the power of the arts. She was passionate about making them accessible and inclusive to everyone. Her advocacy shaped so much of my worldview and she’s had a secret influence on the world of SFF.
Back in 2009, I asked if I could host the Codex Writer’s Retreat at their house. It’s the old family farm, built by my grandparents for entertaining. Mom was always opening the house to artists and musicians and puppeteers from all over the world. So it seemed the most natural thing to invite thirty writers there for a week.
After that, we hosted the first two Writing Excuses retreats there. I honestly don’t think Writing Excuses would be running workshops today if Mom hadn’t provided a safe place to begin them. She coached me through the logistics from her decades of experience running conferences. When Writing the Other wanted to do a proof-of-concept retreat, Mom opened the house so they could try their ideas in a low-risk environment.
I asked her once about schmoozing, which she had to do as part of fundraising and she said, “The secret is that the other person is more interesting than you are. You live with yourself. The other person is more interesting. “
That’s who my mom was. You want to make art? You want to make the world a more beautiful place? She would make room for you. You were interesting.
I love her very much and she remains my best role model.
If you’re able, the best support you can provide is in the form of a donation in the name of Marilyn J. Harrison to the Chattanooga arts council, Arts Build, in her memory.
She worked there for over a decade as vice-president, and we’d like for her to be able to continue to do the arts advocacy that meant so much to her.
Thank you for your ongoing support. It truly means the world to me.
Mary Robinette Kowal