Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Stuart Robertson

overcast, teeming rain just now, muggy, mild, temps 24

Way above seasonalbe temps today. Rain held off until just now.

About two minutes ago we received the sad news that a friend and former colleague at the CBC, Stuart Robertson, has died. He was 65 and had battled lymphoma for 15 years. He was known as the gardening guy...and beloved for his humour and passion. He had a couple books out and would lecture about gardening...and he had a column in the Montreal Gazette for years.

But he was more than that. He was a journalist who chased hard news stories, though his heart was really more in the happy stories. he loved it when he could uncover good news, and tell people. He was tall and slim and spoke, for reasons that baffled perhaps even him, with a slight British accent. He was married to Donna and has a son, Jeremy.

I realize most of you don;t know who I'm talking about, and to be honest, while Stuart and Donna were at our wedding, we didn't stay close. But it was hard not to have alot of affection for Stuart. He was a delightful man. To everything there is, as Stuart knew, a season. But I can't help think the frost came a little too early.

On another note, after much agonizing, I've decided to cannot leave Michael after his eye operation. So I spoke to the people at my publishers, Minotaur, and they were great. Without hesitation they said they'd look after it, and to not worry.

'It' meant cancelling two important tour events! The talk at the New Canaan library - which I'm VERY disappointed about. There were so many people I was looking forward to meeting, some for the first time, some who have become friend. I am sorry.

It also meant having to bow out of a very important publishing event...the New England Independent Booksellers Association annual gathering. I was among 12 authors voted to join them for their sign books and chat. It was going to be a fabulous chance to meet these important and influential people, and thank them for being so supportive.

I really did agonize over this...going back and forth. It was such an important engagement, for this the biggest book of my career.

But Michael's eye operation was just the day before, and could not be changed even if we wanted to. At first I thought at least I'd be there for the operation, go away early the next morning, then return by noon the next day...away 30 hours.

You can see - I'm good at rationalizing. But I wasn't happy. it wasn't sitting right. And finally I knew it just wasn't right. I could never, and should never, put my career ahead of my husband. If it was a hangnail, yes. But this was his eyesight...and while there is every reason to be optomistic, it is still stressful.

So I called, and bless them, Minotaur and andy martin the publisher could not have been nicer about what was clearly a blow to their marketing strategy. Andy basically said, 'Don't worry. Do what you have to do for Michael.'

And now, today, to hear about Stuart. And I knew even more I'd made the right decision. We have to put the people we love first.

Besides, what are the books about, if not that? How could I write about love and loyalty, then not be there for Michael?

As soon as I decided, I knew.

Off to Kingston tomorrow for the writer's festival. A 6:30 to 8pm panel, then driving back to Montreal by midnight.

Be well.


Jo B. said...

You have definitely done the right thing in my book! Loved ones come is so uncertain! Congratulations on the new book! I did not realize it was out...we have been a little occupied in our area with devastating floods! It is good to read of your success!

Martha said...

I'm glad you're staying with Michael. Even if he doesn't admit it, he needs you by his side. Good for you. We are having floods in Atlanta too. Is that where Jo B. is from? Got my new book today and have been good for nothing all day. This GA girl will keep ya'll in my prayers.

♥Jen♥ said...

Louise, you never cease to amaze me. As I've read through the entire THREE PINES series this year I've continually marvelled at your exceptional talent with the written word and articulating the beauty of life. And you are equally as talented at living the beauty of life. (did that make a lick of sense?)

Best wishes for a very successful operation! :)

Melody said...

I've been reading and enjoying your blog for some time now. I just want to let you know I am about in the middle of The Brutal Telling....and I am loving it!

You made the right decision to stay with Michael after his surgery. I hope all goes well with it.

I am a librarian in Illinois, and have recommended your books to many readers. You have fans here!


Jeanine said...

Dear Louise,

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, Stuart Robinson. It's always sad when we lose someone we knew, even though we may not have remained in close touch over the years.

I am so happy that you've given yourself permission to cancel your plans and stay with Michael. I'm sure he encouraged you to leave after his surgery but, in your heart, you know he is relieved to have to with him - and you also will relieve yourself of a load of stress from being away from him. It was wonderful of your publisher to be so gracious about it. Please know that all your fans will understand completely and applaud your decision. As you say, Michael comes first, before anything else that's going on in your life.

The "tease-fest" is over, I'm not as strong as I thought - it's a matter of postponing everything else in my life now until I finish reading "The Brutal Telling".


lil Gluckstern said...

How wonderful you are, and how much I pray for you. I've been wondering why I look forward to your blogs so much, and I realized-beyond all the other stuff-you are breathtakingly REAL. In this world of superficialities, and truly unimportant discussions, you raise issues that really do matter; the importance of our loved ones, and the importance of living each day with gusto, and with grace. I am about to begin your book, and settle in to a time of pleasure, and thought. And for this I thank you. Again, I wish Michael well, and my thoughts are with you both.

Mercedes said...

Louise --

I think I might understand how you feel about Stuart Robertson's "early frost" death. I felt that way about Peter Gzowski's death in 2002. He was my Captain Canada, esp. after I moved to Arizona. Gzowski and the Gardening Guy: CBC heroes, both.

You met my mother and father in Ottawa at this year's Bloody Words Conference and autographed The Cruellest Month and The Murder Stone for them to give to me. Thank you.

Your reference to Stuart Robertson's death put me in mind of a poem that my dad wrote a number of years ago. No comfort, here, but at least words.


The mountains are white.
Flowers in their pots
Shrink from the first touch
Of frost.

One yellow leaf,
One perfect rose,
As summer, too brief,
Draws to a close.

-- 30 --

Summers in the Rockies are always too brief.

-- Mercedes

lil Gluckstern said...

Hope all is well. Just blogging again to tell you that I get the online version of the NYTimes Book Review, and there is a marvelous animated graphic ad for 'The Brutal Telling." Very Nice!!!

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi all,

Again - the mass response. I am sorry - busy day. Yes - isn't that fab about the NYTRB this sunday? Minotaur has been wonderful promoting the book!

And thank you all for your sympathy about Stuart...and understanding about my decision re: Michael. And being so supportive.

Marjorie - I hope you're reading this! I tried to find your email address to tell you not to go next Friday...but can't find it!

But thanks to everyone for being so fun, and kind, and supportive.

What a very strange week. Life. So great, and so sad. All together.

Marjorie said...


Of course I am reading this. I read your blog more than you do, I bet! I wouldn't miss it. It's like have a conversation with a very smart and witty friend who you hope doesn't realize that you could never be as sparkling a conversationalist as she is, so you are glad that she does most of the talking.

Anyway, I am touched that you would think to make sure that I knew about your (very understandable) decision to not come to Connecticut on the 2nd. My only residual regret is that I have a little thank you gift to give you at the event, but now that won't work out. But that's okay, too. I'll just keep it for myself!

Now, put me in your email address book so that you will never lose me again! Not that you aren't busy doing anything else this week!

My email is:

--Marjorie from Connecticut (who really hopes you didn't mean your message for Cousin Marjorie). I will be in New York City tomorow and when I get on the train I will have already purchased the Sunday NY Times as you can get it there on Saturdays. Woo Hoo.