Cosmos on my kitchen table October 2011
Flowers of the Heart Seven November 12, 2017
For Doug Williams
He’s a quiet man, not much for
direct speech, but he has been
a loving friend to me for thirty years.
He came first to my Roadmap classes
in the Durham Library. He’d been
trained as an electrical engineer;
computers were his specialty. As a
writer, I depended on them,
especially after the nineties. He
became my fix-it man. I opened
the literary world to him. He wanted
to learn ancient Greek, and I loaned
him a grammar and a dictionary.
He studied Proust with me, and
he took several lifestyle courses
in which we asked ourselves
hard questions about our goals
in life and how we’d meet them.
He liked to read about American
presidents and the lives of poets.
He wrote some poetry, but mostly
he liked to talk over what he was
reading and thinking. Once I had
a publisher for my grandmother
Grace’s China diary, he helped
with formatting which bewildered
me. He laughs now at how he
invented a program to deal with
some footnote problems. Then
the computer he’d installed wouldn’t
turn on. He sent it back because the
warranty was still running and put
all the China files on a tiny computer,
so I could get the formatted book
to the publisher in a timely manner.
I try not to bother him, but computers
defy my understanding, and I
write to Doug, and he comes down
as soon as he can. I always offer
lunch or supper, but these days
he usually has other plans. He
likes to treat me for my birthday
at a good restaurant and have a chat.
His trust and care are a great gift.
Where would I be in my writer’s
life without Doug on stand-by?