I’m writing to thank you for your remembrance of Eileen Hennessy
which I came across at your chapter’s website. It touched my heart
deeply to see how much her colleagues respected her. And it also gave me a much clearer picture of her professional associations.
I met Eileen in 1965 when I was 19 years old and an undergraduate at Stony Brook University. We both happened to be working summer jobs in the university library and we became and remained close friend ever since.
Eileen had already graduated from college and was working on a
career path that would eventually combine commercial translation
poetry, literary translation and teaching. My career path was very
different and I never had the opportunity to work with Eileen as a
colleague. I envy those who did. Except for your remembrance of her as a colleague, I would not really understand this part of her life
because work per se was not the major part of our discussions. I did
not have a clear picture of her accomplishments.
When my work took me to New York City, we would meet for dinner and talk about everything that was on our minds. Sometimes, I would stay over to Saturday so we could catch a Broadway matinee before I returned upstate. When time permitted, Eileen would come up to visit me in Albany and we’d talk a whole weekend until we were exhausted and hoarse. I especially treasured her annual Christmas visits. Last Christmas was the first time in 25+ years that she could not come because she was so ill.
Eileen was a very private person, but she told me when she received
her diagnosis and we both cheered when she went into remission for several very good years. I held my hopes that it would last much
longer but it was not to be.
When I retired, I lost my mobility and had to use walkers and
wheelchairs, I could no longer travel alone. When my younger sister
lost her husband in 2010, two local friends, on their way to Florida,
drove me to Richmond, VA to be with my sister. When it was time to return home, I asked Eileen if she would come down to accompany me back to Albany, Of course, she said, Yes!, We flew back together.
I told Eileen once that her friendship graced my life, Via your
remembrance of her, I’m very glad to find out that I’m one of many.
You see, she never talked about how she helped others,
So once again, thank you.