Thursday, January 11, 2018

Saying Goodbye to a friend I never met, but who inspired me

I am saddened over the  passing of a dear friend I  never met in person. Joan Cannon and I have been friends since 2007 when I became Program Coordinator for Netwest (NCWN-West) the first time. In the fall of that year, I attended the North Carolina Writers' Network Fall Conference. At that conference, I was fortunate to hear three bloggers tell about how they created free blogs through Blogger.com and how those blog sites changed their writing lives.

I came home and created www.netwestwriters.blogspot.com so that our mountain writers could connect to each other online and to the world beyond the mountains.

Joan  L. Cannon, author who inspired me
Joan Cannon, a writer who lived in Morganton, NC saw that blog and wrote to me. She wanted to  know if  she lived in the region of NCWN-West. I hated to tell her she did not.
She was a member of NCWN, but was looking for writers near her. She had written a book and, being older and living in a retirement area, she had difficulty finding and  meeting other writers. In other words, she was looking for connections.

I put Joan on my email list and she received most of the information I sent to our local members. She subscribed to our blog and read it regularly. She left comments and felt she knew our members from reading about them online.

I bought her novel, Settling, and shared it with my friends. We agreed Joan was a very good writer. I had found a website edited and written by writers of a  certain age. The site is www.SeniorWomen.com The women who founded this site deliberately set it up for older women writers and women readers. They publish thoughtful and insightful articles on many subjects and the writing is top-notch.

I suggested to Joan Cannon that she contact the editors and apply for a  job writing for them. They were delighted to have her intelligent well-written essays. Soon the woman who felt isolated in Morganton, NC was being read around the world. She never stopped thanking me for recommending she contact them.


I wrote to the editors of Senior Women:

Dear Editor,
I really enjoyed Joan Cannon's article, Relativity. I am pleased because I sent the Senior Women site to Joan and now she is here. Great. Your site is just the best and the writing you present is outstanding. The writers and the writing is more relevant to me than anything I read — print or online.

Thank you so much for having this site for older women. Here we are not ever invisible.
Glenda in North Carolina


When my husband, Barry, died in 2009, I resigned my job as PC for NCWN-West, but continued administering the blog. I also continued my friendship with Joan.  We often said we wished we could meet one day, but we never did. Joan lost her husband after a long marriage and she grieved as I did. She wrote a touching and lovely book of poetry, My Mind  is Made of Crumbs, that I treasure.

We both became active on Facebook and instead of emails, we kept up with each other there. On April 10, 2008, Joan began her blog, Hilltop Notes. Overtime, some of  our Netwest writers and others left comments. Nancy Simpson and Shirley Uphouse visited Hilltop Notes. Maureen Ryan Griffin and Tipper Pressley also commented as Joan reached out with questions about publishing as she approached eighty years of age.

I don't think blogging was her favorite thing to do, but I found her posts interesting. She was honest and open and that is important for a blogger. She could not believe that anyone read her posts so she felt it was a futile effort, but I assured her that when she submitted her short stories or manuscripts, editors googled her name and found she had an online presence.

On her author page on Amazon.com we can go to Joan's blog post after five years of absence. She had her problems with technology and gave up blogging for a long time. However, she did not give up writing. We can also see her books on her author page and order them from Amazon. I was inspired by Joan and admired her determination to write and publish her work when most people her age would likely not have the energy to  persevere.

After a few years, Joan let us know that she would be moving away from North Carolina where she had lived for more than a decade. She moved to Connecticut to  be close to  her family. Although we never met person to person, Joan and I were friends who knew each other in ways some friends I see often don't know me.  Her granddaughter Taylor told me that Joan was diagnosed with cancer.

This is what Taylor wrote: My grandmother passed away peacefully on October 11, 2017. As you may already know, she had been suffering from cancer and enduring chemo for about a year, but when the treatments began making her ill and generally miserable, she opted to stop them. She stopped eating and drinking at the beginning of October and was moved into the hospice ward at Noble Horizons in Salisbury, CT. I came home to Connecticut to see her just days before she passed, and she seemed relatively comfortable and quite at peace with her situation. It was such a gift to be able to say goodbye to her.

I am not surprised to learn that Joan decided what she wanted for her end of life. She chose to stop chemo and she chose to die with dignity. Good for her.

The following is from the Senior Women website:


Joan L. Cannon liked to use her middle initial because so few of her maiden namesakes are left anywhere (Huguenot LaPrades). She was retired teacher, retail manager and author of three novels in paperback, Settling and Maiden Run, a collection of short stories called Peripheral Vision and her latest, a collection of poetry, My Mind Is Made of Crumbs, all available from Amazon and on order from independent booksellers.

Joan's most recent novel is Second Growth and can be purchased through Amazon. From childhood, there have been toss-ups for her avocations among reading, riding horses, painting, local flora and fauna and writing.
Editor's note: We were gifted by Joan's vibrant, inspired, writing for the website and plan to revisit her essays often.



2 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

We don't need to meet people for them to become precious to us. I am sorry for your loss.

Glenda Council Beall said...

Yes, EC. Joan proved that to me. Thank you.