As many of you already know, the Playfriends lost our beloved Maven Beverly Barton last week. Beverly was an incredible woman, full of spirit and laughter. A true southern Lady, she admonished us on correct etiquette, encouraged us to love our families, and applauded our go-to spirits. In fact, Beverly was the first Maven to call us “the Children”, and we will be forever grateful for the gift of her love and encouragement.
This week we will be making a departure from our normal blogging procedures to share with you a few of our personal stories about Beverly Barton – author, mother, and dear, dear friend. If you have your own stories – about meeting her, reading her books, reading her interviews, etc – we’d love for you to join us. This week, we celebrate the life and legacy of Beverly Barton.
Mavens and Children -- 2006
How the Children Got Their Name
(written by Maven Linda Winstead Jones)
It was July 2005, Reno Nevada. Linda Howard and I were both on the National Board of RWA, so we’d flown in several days early for a meeting before the conference. Beverly was coming out a few days later, and she’d planned to travel with a few of the newer members of HOD, bright, wonderful women we’d all taken to right away. Maybe if there had only been one or two of them we would’ve called them by name, but when Beverly arrived she told us she’d flown in with “some of the Children.” Immediately it took, and a day or two later we were asking on a regular basis, “Where are the Children?”
I’m not sure why she chose “Children.” True, most of them are young enough to be our offspring, but without naming names -- (ahem, Playground Monitor) -- we could not have given birth to all of them. But they were all new in the business, and we adored them, and it just seemed right.
It must’ve seemed right to others, too, because it stuck. Word spread quickly throughout the romance world, and within a matter of weeks our young friends were being asked, “Are you one of the Children?” Other writers from all across the country, people none of us knew . . . even editors. When Beverly first said those words, I doubt she had any idea what she’d set into motion.
Beverly Barton and Angel at the RWA National RITA ceremony, 2006
Though I’m sure many of the stories this week will make me smile as I remember them, the story I want to share with you today made me cry when it happened, and makes me cry even more today.
You see, a few months ago, Beverly approached me at one of our local chapter meetings. She barely had time to come in the door and put down her purse before she stopped me at the back of the room. “Honey,” she said – she often called me Honey – “I had no idea what was going on and I want you to know I’m so sorry.”
Beverly had only recently found out about the troubles brewing at my house, and her sincere concern pushed me out of my precarious hold on that ‘stoic’ face we show the world. I immediately burst into tears.
I’ll never forget standing in the back of that room with probably 20 or 25 people milling about, but we could have been somewhere totally alone. Beverly put her arms around me and held me close, speaking quietly in my ear. She told me how much she understood, how she knew it was hard, and what a strong woman she believed me to be. At that moment I didn’t feel strong, but I didn’t have to be. She talked to me about my writing, telling me my time would come, that I couldn’t give up, that I had to believe. She said, “I’ll do whatever I can to help you. Whatever I can.”
Those words meant the world to me at that moment, and they are even more precious to me today. Not just that she was willing to help me, but more because she believed in me enough to say them. She believed in me as a writer, as a mother, and as a woman.
We emailed several times after that in the weeks that followed. She offered more encouragement, and reminded me often how important marriage and family are. As I stood amongst her family at her memorial service, those words took root in my heart. She wasn’t offering pat answers, but instead speaking from experience.
I’ll be forever grateful that she not only counted me as a friend, but reached out to me in my time of need.
PS. Our friend Barbara Vey at Publisher's Weekly is blogging today about Beverly on Beyond Her Book. The link is in our sidebar. Barbara will be visiting us for the luncheon on Friday.