Thursday, August 30, 2012

Remembering Josepha Sherman


I went to New York City yesterday for a memorial service for Josepha Sherman, who died recently after a long illness.  Josepha was a prolific writer, an editor, a folklorist, and the co-author of (among many other books, mostly written solo) Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood.  I've got a copy here on my desk and, unlike most such books, it really is genuinely, cheerfully subversive.

As was Josepha.  I wasn't a close friend -- not like most of the people who showed up last night.  But I enjoyed her company and she clearly enjoyed her life.  Every time I saw her, she was just enjoying the heck out of the situation, whatever it might be.

Listening to her friends relate fond memories, I couldn't help thinking of how in some ways she and I were opposites.  I never know how to respond to gifts, for one thing.  When somebody gives me something, I stand tongue-tied until Marianne nudges me and says, "Say thank-you, Michael."

I suspect that Josepha never had to be told to say thank-you.  She knew that life is a gift and she was continuously grateful for it.

Now that gift has come to an end.  But the memories remain, the friends remain, the community she was a part of remains.  Rest in peace, Joespha.  You left some good things behind.

Including at least one book so subversive I can't quite find the guts to quote it here.



janeyolen said...

Josepha was a one-off. There was simply no one like her. A strange combination of OTT and LOLness, combined with a deep running stream of loneliness and fear. And yet she would turn on a dime at a convention or party to help someone out.

And the laughter--that horse laugh--it was contagious and at times a bit overwhelming. She always managed to drag you into some merriment even when it was inappropriate. Or maybe ESPECIALLY when it was inappropriate.

Rest easy, old friend.


Michael Swanwick said...

One of a kind, yes, and also one of those people you expect (even knowing it's impossible) to just keep on going forever.

It helped, though, that there was a lot of laughter at the memorial service. That's the way we should all be remembered.