I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Ilene Hall Maxey 1918-2010

That's me in the hat. I was two years old. The other child is my cousin Tony, age 1, and my grandmother, Ilene Hall Maxey, who would have been 48 at the time. She passed away on Tuesday last week at the age of 92.

She lived alone in her own home; she was far too independent ever to move in with one of her children. And, in my memories, it's difficult to untangle memories of my grandmother from memories of her house. She lived out in the country in a stone house built by her husband and children. Going there when I was a child was alway an adventure. There were fields of corn my great-grandfather used to plant that I remember running through, an old barn I used to climb around in, and seemingly endless woods I used to explore with my cousins.

More significantly, though, her house was a library. My grandfather, Sidney Maxey, had subscribed to National Geographic non-stop since the 1940s and there were stacks of the magazines everywhere you looked. He also was an accumulator of paperback books, which he kept on shelves out on his porch where they would turn yellow, their covers falling off, but oh, oh, oh, how I loved the smell of those old books, and how I would dig through them, searching for pulpy science fiction. Grandfather apparently had a taste for fringe science, so I also remember books about the bermuda triangle and Atlantis and ancient astronauts. I first read Charles Forte's "Wild Talents" among his collection. To this day, my reading preferences are shaped by those never ending stacks of decaying pulp.

One specific memory of my grandmother that still touches me comes not from my childhood, but from when I was in my late twenties. I'd just gotten divorced, and felt like the biggest failure in the world. My family was getting together for some sort of reunion, and I dreaded having to walk in and tell every one the news of my divorce. But, when I told my grandmother the news, she just shrugged it off, with, "Well, you're not the first Maxey ever to get divorced." She really didn't seem phased by the news at all, nor did her opinion of my seem to be lowered. It's easy to see now that the bonds of family are much tougher than the setbacks of a life that unfold day to day or year by year. You just shrug off the bad stuff, move on, remain family.

One final note: As I was standing by her grave, reflecting on the fact that she was 92, I was trying to take comfort that, hey, if I lived as long as her, I'd have another fifty years. But, of course, I instantly recognized that my math was off, and recalculated. I'm 46 now. That means... I'm exactly half the age she was when she passed away. So, why is it I still feel like a child so much of the time? Why do I feel pretty much the way I did when I was twenty; I'm in the body of an adult, but when it comes to handling adult matters, I still feel every day like I'm just making it up as I go along?

Did the woman in the photograph above, age 48, feel like she was winging it? Does this feeling last, perhaps, all the way to 92?


Mr. Cavin said...

Nice work, man. I'm sorry to hear about more bad news, and hope you're doing okay.

James Maxey said...

Thank you, sir. I actually feel a sense of optimism at the moment. I've had three people important to me pass away in less than six month, but all had been unhealthy for some time. (Well, my grandmother hadn't been unhealthy, or she wouldn't have made it to 92.) Right now, I think most of the people in my life are in relatively good health. I'm hoping it will be a long, long time before I order any more coffins. With luck, it will be several years before I attend another funeral.

Mr. Cavin said...

I know what you mean. I was all set to post something happily commemorating the fact that nobody I knew (or their loved ones) had died in March. It'd be the first month since September I could say that, by the way. But This seemed like a creepy thing to put up on April Fools' Day, so I thought I'd wait till after Easter. Now I'm optimistic that I can post a similar message on May Day, instead.

It's terrible that this is optimism, though. I shouldn't be thinking this way at all; I spend a lot my time hoping that everybody will stay alive now.

Gray Rinehart said...

Sorry to hear about your loss, James. And, to respond to one specific element of your post, I think we're all winging it most of the time. At least, I know I am.