Jude Genereaux | Four Years and Holding …

23 04 2017
Norbert George Blei August 23, 1935- April 23, 2013

Norbert George Blei / August 23, 1935- April 23, 2013


Four Years and Holding…

Holding on. To memory. To tradition, habits. To legacy.
It’s what we do when we’ve lost that someone most significant in
our lives: we hold on.

Life goes on – yes, yes, we know all that; we’ve heard and repeated and chanted all the mantras that are supposed to bring us peace. Of course “life goes on” … rarely as joyfully or as meaningful. Or inspired. These are the elements Norb brought to my life: joy. Meaning. Inspiration. Both as my Other and as the teacher so many knew him as.

What keeps him in our world now, after all this time? Most immediately we think of his books and all the words he left for us to savor; many of us read and re-read them often, returning to them, to keep him with us. Hear his voice when you read them? I do.

Norb was also a dedicated letter writer, not only on a personal level, but when he’d get onto topics such as the writing life and other writers, films, art –life itself, his letters would take on epic lengths. My shelves are heavy with boxes and files not only of these and his personal letters, but great collections of clippings, news and magazine articles he sent still tumble forth from the corners in my loft. His presence is rich in them. Then come notes and reminders he tucked in books urging me to “Read This!”, underscoring and comments; post-it notes stuck to the pages of my class notebooks, little drawings and doggerel. All saved and richly abundant among the detritus we writers keep at our desk. Messages of encouragement, admonishing, reminding me to: WRITE IT DOWN!

Norbert George Blei / August 23, 1935- April 23, 2013

Norbert George Blei / August 23, 1935- April 23, 2013

The dedication he brought to his own day was a beacon for all of us who shared his vision and passion for the written word.

I continue to pull titles from his reading lists, saved from my eighteen years as participant in his class: a bountiful number of required and “suggested readings” he insisted we experience. Norb focused his workshops on a different genre each summer – the writers of Latin American, Jewish authors, Native American, Irish, Black, the Beats and memoir … more. Besides the dozen or so pre-class readings, during the workshop itself he would discuss and note dozens more we might want to become aware of. I scrupulously made note of all, my intention being to eventually read them, though I fear I’ll never make it.

How many board feet of shelves filled with books were in our home? I should conjure up that number sometime: nine walls, floor to ceiling, holding an estimated 4 to 5,000 books … a tapestry of wonder and knowledge few ever accomplish reading, much less retaining as Norb did. He could search out and find exactly the text he was looking for at any given time, as well as an obscure passage that once captured his attention.

The loss many of us feel at his death is profound. How may we hold onto this amazing man? Here is the one note of comfort I have found: it is he, holding on to us. He stays with us always, in our hearts, our memories and our reading / writing lives. ~Jude Genereaux

Norbert George Blei / August 23, 1935- April 23, 2013

Norbert George Blei / August 23, 1935- April 23, 2013




11 responses

23 04 2017

I remember today April 23, 2013 very well, maybe to well. Just yesterday I thought about working on my remarks at Norb’s Celebration of Life at Peninsula Players. His Coop now rests at the perfect location. Our family read his books aloud as we drove to and from Door County. He inspired us to think, to write and to read. Thank you Jude.

23 04 2017
Jude Gx

Thank YOU Tim … your dedication and energy were a major part of the success we had in getting the Coop moved to the perfect location, one that would do honor both to it, and to Norb. You’ve been a steady friend of his for decades and he knew, and deeply appreciated it. ~Jude

23 04 2017
Carol Doty

A wonderful post, Jude. Thinking especially of you today and will light a candle at our Unitarian church. Much love, Carol

23 04 2017

Thank you for the remembrance. You bring him back to us with such love and care. I send you much love and sweetness,Dear Jude.

23 04 2017
Tom's Jude

Thanks so much for sharing your heartfelt words. We can find Norb not only in his books, but also in your loving words as you keep his spirit alive. I will light a candle for Norb at church today, thanking God for the blessing he was in Tom’s and my life and asking God to comfort you. Shantih

23 04 2017
Jean Casey

all those books which he guarded and loved and pulled down to reread, enjoy like old friends ,,, J Casey

23 04 2017
Peter Thelen

Amen Jude!

23 04 2017
Albert DeGenova

Thank you so much for posting this Jude. His presence is palpable, everyday.

23 04 2017

You make my heart so full and so sad.
I’m so happy you and Norb found each other.
Love always,

24 04 2017

Thank you. I have saved many cards and letters as well . I also have many of the news clippings and articles from publications he sent to me which he called “good reading.”
We all miss him very much …

24 04 2017
Paula K

We remember, too, and carry him with us daily in our hearts. He continues to inspire – “Write it! Finish it! Submit it!” Can you hear his rumbling voice? Our highest tribute to Norb is to do our own work, and get it out there in the world.

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