Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 11th, 2008
I went to Ohio on Wednesday, April 9th, 2008, to give a special talk to a private, thoughtful, intellectual group of 150 people at the research organization called Emerson Climate Technologies. They wanted someone to stimulate their thoughts, to give examples of a different creative process, and, yes, to entertain them, scientifically and humanely. I did that by giving an illustrated lecture, full of humor and humanness, entitled “Cryptozoology: Passion and Patience.”
I covered a lot of ground, from the beginnings of the study of hidden animals, through mentions of Ivan T. Sanderson, Bernard Heuvelmans, Ruth Harkness, Scott Norman, and lots of other people.
I visited with okapis and giant squid, muntjacs and woodland bison, Mothman and Sasquatch, and, of course, Yetis, Half Human and how it started for me.
I, furthermore, enlightened the gathering to the grounded life of a cryptozoologist, one who has as a priority being a good father, with two sons in college, with an interest in baseball, and living in the state of being a son himself.
I deliver extremely good talks, without notes, without a prepared script, stimulated by a wealth of experiences and stories I have from the field, going with the flow of the crowd, the intelligence of my audience, and the thoughts generated by the moment.
For some reason, in the middle of this early evening talk, I told the story I have lightly sketched out at the very opening of my 1989 biography, Tom Slick and the Search for the Yeti (but not found in the 2002 edition).
Interestingly, the passage is a reflection I hardly ever share in lectures nowadays. The following is the way I penned it in my Yeti book, just one version of my remembrances that I shared verbally with the folks in Ohio on Wednesday:
This work has been almost thirty years in the making. In 1960, my mother, Anna, was the first individual to help me with my beginning research on Tom Slick and the Yeti. Long before photocopying machines were located at every corner, my mom would, like an ancient Tibetan monk, hand-copy Abominable Snowman articles that I borrowed from the libraries in Decatur, Illinois. I would examine these early handwritten items very carefully and add them to my growing files.
“Anna” is a name that I always liked, perhaps instinctively because it was one that reads the same way, no matter which way you view it, kind of like my mom.
Of course, because it was my mother’s name, it was a moniker that I felt gave me a sense of auburn hair, a notion of a quiet nature, and a desire of being secretly pleased without a lot of flare.
I returned to Maine late on Thursday afternoon, and found that my phone messages were filled with calls from my sister Susan and sister-in-law Kris.
I was shocked when I played back the messages to discover my mother Anna, 80 years of age, had died at 5:30 pm, Wednesday, in Riverside, California. As my sister would tell me later, my mother had caught a cold on Tuesday, and went into respiratory failure on Wednesday. It had happened that suddenly, that very quickly.
It seems unbelievable to lose someone that’s always been there for you. But it happens and it has occurred to me before (my father died in 1985).
My mom was a “housewife,” as she was called back in the 1950s. A homemaker would be the word today. She literally was a stay-at-home mom who raised four kids (Susan, Jerry, Bill & me), the best she could. Sometimes that’s enough. For me, it was plenty.
Also, of course, she will always be to me much more, my American version of a devoted Tibetan monk transcribing Yeti info on a cold spring night, assisting in gathering the initial building blocks I used to become a cryptozoologist.
She loved her kids and grandkids, and her baseball (especially the Angels after her move to California in the 1970s). She was forgiven long ago for becoming an Angels’ fan despite the fact my sons and I are Red Sox diehards. My mom would tell me how much she enjoyed hearing about Malcolm’s shortstop plays and Caleb’s leftie pitching. During her last few years, she enjoyed watching and taping her oldest son in various television documentaries too. It is wonderful when your mother can become your greatest fan, and you can share both cryptozoology and baseball with each other.
I lived a continent away, but felt much closer than that. I miss her deeply.
There will be no funeral (as per her wishes), so I guess I’ll do the 21st century thing: I will say a simple good-bye to her via this blog.
Out of respect for this Anna I briefly knew in this lifetime, and to give myself a few reflective moments, this will be all I write for today and tomorrow (unless something earthshaking happens, like a Yeti is captured).
Anna Lucille Llywellyn (nee McClain, 1946) (- Coleman, 1974) Atkins, born August 10, 1927 (Shelbyville, Illinois), died April 9, 2008 (Riverside, California), daughter of Donald McClain and Nellie Gray, and mother of Susan Hoey (b. 1954, Decatur, Illinois), Jerry Dale Coleman (b. 1951, Decatur, Illinois), William Coleman (b. 1948, Decatur, Illinois), and Loren Coleman (b. 1947, Norfolk, Virginia). Preceded in death by her first husband, Loren, and her second, Ray.
Anna McClain Coleman, at 17 years of age, three years before she gave birth to Loren Coleman.
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