Thursday, November 30, 2006

Eulogy for a friend.

In the past this blog has eulogised the great and well known. Most recently Milton Friedman. But today I want to take a few minutes to discuss someone who died last night who is not well known. A few of my readers will know her but most will not. So why do it?

My reason is simple. I believe that human decency ought to be worthy of praise. I appreciate deeply the contributions of individuals like Friedman. But I also appreciate those I have known who have been good people. By the standards of the world they might be called average. But they are not average. It is too easy for people today to be unkind, uncaring or cruel. Libby Husemeyer was not average. She was a gentle soul and always pleasant.

I remember numerous times when we sat in her kitchen just enjoying conversation. We laughed a lot. Now most of what Libby did would not get a mention in the great newspapers. She was a mother, a wife, a talented editor, a caring person, fun to be around. These are not the things which make front page stories. Shame really.

One of the last times I saw Libby was at an art gallery. She had edited the book Keith Alexander: The Artist in Retrospective. We both shared an admiration for Alexander’s work. I was lucky to have some signed prints by Alexander. She was luckier and had an original hanging in her hallway. Funny these coincidences of life that give people a common bond. I had opened a magazine one day and saw photos of the paintings of Alexander and immediately fell in love with them. Later I discovered that Libby shared my admiration for this work. After Alexander’s death a collection of his work was gathered in this book and the gallery launched the book and had a showing of Alexander’s work.

Libby also shared my passion for individual freedom. And often she edited books that shared that passion. Numerous authors benefited from her work as did countless thousands of readers. I guess what I really appreciated about Libby was that we always found something to laugh about. Laughter is such wonderful gift and yet so ignored in this world.

Libby was far too young to have left this life. The natural processes of life lack justice. I can not conceive of there being intelligent design when good people suffer needlessly. Cruel and vicious people survive far too long and good people go far too early. We are all willing to acknowledge the great achievements but we ignore simple goodness. It saddens me deeply when a genuinely good person dies. I know she loved her family and was glad they could be with her till the end. My heart goes out to them. I know that many, many people who knew Libby will be saddened today. I know I am.

I would like to include some words from Robert Ingersoll:

Yet, after all, it may be best, just in the happiest, sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager winds are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen rock, and in an instant hear the billows roar above a sunken ship. For whether in mid-sea or 'mong the breakers of the farther shore, a wreck at last must mark the end of each and all. And every life, no matter if its every hour is rich with love and every moment jeweled with a joy, will, at its close, become a tragedy as sad and deep and dark as can be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death.

The painting is titled “Beyond” and is one of the works of Keith Alexander, whose retrospective was copy edited by Libby.