• U.S.


2 minute read
Richard Ford

One hot spring day, I was walking with EUDORA WELTY through a little shopping mall. It was her birthday, April 13. There was a surprise party waiting at a bookstore down the way. She was 86. As we walked rather slowly along the glass storefronts, we came to where a wide, smiling, pink-faced man was inflating colorful balloons. As each balloon filled and fattened, the cylinder emitted quite a loud whoosh of air. Eudora looked about to find the sound. “Balloons,” I said. I had her hand. “Someone’s apparently having a do.” “Oh,” she said. Those luminous, pale blue eyes igniting, her magical face suppressing once again an amused smile. “I just thought it was someone who saw me, sighing.”

A minor moment, yes–and not, goodness knows, Eudora Welty in a nutshell. The truly grand among us don’t fit into nutshells. Yet it exemplifies the continual, transforming and affectionate commerce Eudora maintained with the living world. To take a walk or a Saturday drive with Eudora was to have the world narrated to you, recalibrated and transformed into language that was surprising, sometimes shocking, always sympathetic, frequently hilarious and full of perception, wonder and delight. This commerce produced 20 or so extraordinary books, a world of adoring readers, a house full of prizes and a life lived solely, though not alone, and utterly to her own measure. To know Eudora Welty was to experience the best of life on an exquisitely human scale and to be reminded again where the seeds of greatness are sown.

–By Richard Ford

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