I’ve been mesmerized by the first season of the new TV series Touch since it began. In the show, a little boy who cannot or will not speak, played brilliantly by young actor David Mazouz, is somehow able to see the connections between everything in our world. He can see where things go wrong if any of the connections aren’t made, and he manages to get his father (Kiefer Sutherland) to help him make sure those connections do happen. It’s an amazing series, made more amazing to me because it’s not fictional at all. The quantum world is becoming more and more a part of our cultural awareness, and we are beginning, just barely, to understand that everything really is connected to everything else.
I was reminded sharply of this when I learned yesterday of the passing of a small, quiet woman by the name of Jane O’Connor. Jane was afflicted with cerebral palsy, and her condition was such that it would have imposed severe limits on most people. Not so Jane. Jane loved romance novels, adored them. Reading them, even trying to write them, and because of that, she learned about the Romance Writers of America, joined it, found out how to go about creating a local chapter, and created it. She did this without any help from anyone as far as I know. All the legalities, all the paperwork. She put a little ad in the Syracuse NY Pennysaver, and a handful of aspiring writers saw it, and the Central NY Romance Writers Chapter of RWA was born. (The photo above was taken at the chapter’s 20 year Anniversary Celebration in 2008. L to R: Maggie Shayne, Jane O’Connor, Gayle Callen, Molly Herwood.)
There are now more than 30 published novelists, with more than 200 published novels to their credit, who say they might never have found their way to their current career had they not found and joined CNYRW. Had Jane not taken that step that most with her condition would never have dreamed of taking.
I found the chapter in 1988, shortly after it was founded, joined in ’89 even though I knew I’d never attend a meeting because I could not, would not drive in downtown Syracuse. (I was young.) Around the same time, I located my birth father after a long search. He later vanished from my life again, but in the meantime, I’d taught myself to drive to his house on Tulip Street in the Syracuse suburb of Liverpool. A few months later, the Central NY Romance Writers relocated their meeting place to the Liverpool Library on Tulip Street.
I can think of dozens of these interconnected puzzle pieces of my life, how if this hadn’t happened, then this wouldn’t have happened and maybe this wouldn’t have happened. It’s amazing and magical to think about and recognize how many tiny details had to fall into place to get any of us to where we are right now.
Jane O’Connor was a very important piece in my jigsaw puzzle, and in the puzzles of many other authors who might be waiting tables otherwise. She helped lead me to doing what I love, and to meeting the best friends I’ve ever had. This tiny, unimposing, supposedly challenged lady may never have published a novel. But there are 33 authors, 207 novels and 45 novellas (at least, there are more who didn’t respond to my email asking for numbers in time for this post) that might never have been published without her.
Isn’t that something? Such a tiny pebble created such a huge ripple in the lives of so many.
And now Jane takes with her our gratitude, appreciation and love with her into the next life. I’ll bet she’s going to get promoted to Muse, don’t you?