At about 5 p.m. Monday November 21st, 2011, Anne McCaffrey passed away.
Mum was getting ready to go back to the hospital because she was feeling “puny” and collapsed while she was moving into her wheelchair. Her daughter, Georgeanne Kennedy, and son-in-law, Geoffrey Kennedy were with her. She was in no pain and it was over in an instant.
She first had a heart attack in late 2000 and a stroke in 2001, so we were well-prepared and knew that we were on “golden time” with Mum these past ten years and more.
She leaves behind an incredible legacy of marvelous books and a huge legion of fans. She won practically every major award in available to authors of science fiction and fantasy, including both Hugo and Nebula Awards, the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards award for Lifetime Literary achievement in Young Adult fiction, was an inductee into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and was a SFWA Nebula Grandmaster.
She was also a great cook, magnificent mother, doting grandmother, ardent quilter, knitter, bridge player, horsewoman, fencer, actress, singer, and all-around nice person.
We are blessed to have known her, just as we are blessed with the knowledge that she has touched so many lives and made such huge changes in them.
Mum always said, “Don’t just pay back a favor — pass it on!” In light of that spirit, we ask that, instead of condolences or flowers, that commemorators make a donation to their favorite charity.
We know that we haven’t lost Mum — that she has truly passed on her legacy of love and honor to all those who were touched by her — and that we have only to open one of her books to find her again.
Rest well, Mum, you’ve earned it!
I never wanted to ride a dragon, as so many McCaffrey fans did. I’ve never been one whose dreams were to fly. I did, however, want a fire lizard. And when I learned to sing, I did it properly and appreciated my choirmaster’s exacting standards. I was careful, though, not to invest all I was into the singing.
Anne McCaffrey kept me company in my loneliness. She told me that I wasn’t worthless when my body betrayed me, no matter how many people thought that made me less than fully human. She reminded me that being different wasn’t bad, was frequently good, in fact, if people survived it long enough, but that it came with its own costs and responsibilities.
On another level, she taught me about writing. She taught me that I need not shy away from the domestic, that it has triumphs and tragedies to equal those in any space opera. She taught me that villains don’t need to be larger than life, that they are often simply to small for the roles that have been thrust on them. As a consequence, she taught me how thin the line between hero and villain can be. That’s worth knowing.
And that’s just me. That’s just one little story out of all the people who have read her work. Todd is right. No one who does what Anne McCaffrey did can die like that. Her name will live on, and her legacy will live longer.
Still, we will miss her.