Thursday, March 16, 2017

In Memory of Hattie

Last week, I was informed that Hattie Lee Ellerbe had died at age 83 on Wednesday March 8th, 2017. Death is not something you expect to fall upon a writing group. But when working with older writers, it is something the writers and volunteers must keep in the back of their minds. When a member disappears from the group unannounced for months at a time, it's easy to assume the worst. So I appreciate when one of their friends or family members tell me of a writer's death.

It breaks my heart, but it means that Hattie loved us. It means that Best Day was enough of a fixture in her life that she knew everyone there would want to know. And right now, it means that I can honor her in this post, and introduce new readers to her works. Even after Hattie has drawn her last breath, she still speaks and we still listen. 

Hattie was one of the first members of The Best Day of My Life So Far, back when it was originally just a six-week workshop. So she was one of the people who convinced Benita to make it an 8+ year workshop. Every time she came to class she wore a big bright smile; one that both she and everyone else in Best Day was proud of. She always glowed with a youthful enthusiasm, and many people here have described her as beautiful inside and out. She loved her family and community so much that she gained the nickname "The Queen of Patton Street Village." 

And this love of community bled into all sorts of unexpected places. When it came to Best Day, she'd always have something to contribute; a little enhancement after everyone's story. More than once, Benita had recorded and transcribed a story someone else was telling, only for Hattie to pop up with a marvelous story of her own. Hattie's son Keith loved her stories so much that he shared her blog posts with everyone he could. Shortly before Keith's death, his secretary told Hattie that he would show off his mother's stories every time they were posted on this blog.

Below is just one of Hattie's many stories. Long live the Queen.

Hattie Lee Ellerbe
Still Celebrating my 82nd Birthday 
I guess I am still in shock over my surprise party. Although I really agree with my friend who said, “When you reach age 80, there should be no surprise party.” I am still shaking from the event which was the 9th of May (smile). I am still reading the lovely cards and looking at the beautiful gifts. Most of them have a butterfly theme. How did so many people know of my love for butterflies? If any of my dear friends have access to this website, please know that I love you much. I thank you and appreciate all you did. To my daughter Karen who has been a blessing to me . . . I love you. You really pulled one over on me!

Read more stories by Hattie Lee Ellerbe:
Patton Street Village

Curated by Caitlin Cieri