The Real Lovey

Lovie Cooper (1930-2011)

Lovie Cooper was a force of nature. When she entered a room, she dominated it, not because she was loud or large, but by the energy around her and the appeal of her larger-than-life personality. Strangers were drawn to her as if by a magnet.

No one liked having fun more than Lovie. She was happiest in the midst of a crowd, holding court. And if there was music, even better.

She was aptly named because she was all about love. And if she loved you, she told you. Often. Of course, she also told you what you should do and how you should do it. Her approach was no nonsense. She did not suffer fools gladly. She once told me, “I say what I think, and you can take it or leave it.” If you were wise, you usually took it.

More than nearly anyone else I’ve ever known, Lovie was confident about who she was and seemed comfortable in her own skin. Her son, Clarence, said his mother was his role model. She was mine as well. I’ve said I wanted to be Lovie when I grew up because that gave me permission not to! Lovie never let age determine who she was or what she could do. To her, age was just a number. And even as her eyesight and hearing diminished and she became infirm, her vibrant spirit remained.

When her daughter, Glenda, asked me to speak at Lovie’s funeral, she said, “No one loved Mother more than you.” The reason for her statement was that we created a character in our book, Murder... They Wrote, inspired by Lovie. She has the same name, only spelled with ‘ey’ instead of ‘ie’ at the end.

Our protagonist, Agapé Jones, is a black, retired NYPD detective who lives on Maui in Hawaii. In the book, he gets drawn into a murder investigation. In order to establish his process of reasoning, we created Lovey as his mother. In life, she was his sounding board. In death, he still hears her speaking to him and has conversations with her. Only in his mind, of course.

When we first began to write our Lovey, I sent Glenda some of the sections where the character appeared. She read them to her mother. I saw her shortly afterward. “When is my book coming out?’ she asked. It took a while to find a publisher, so she asked the question often. Although she inspired a fairly minor but important character, Lovie always thought of the book as ‘her’ book.

Her daughter-in-law, Dee, got a copy when it was finally published in 2009 and read it to Lovie. I guess she liked it, since the next time I saw her she asked, “So when is my next book coming out?” I’m sorry she just missed it because Murder in Paradise was published two days after she died. Lovie is acknowledged in this one.

Larry usually writes the older ladies in our books, but I write Lovey. It’s easy because all I have to do is close my eyes and I can hear her voice and her laugh. And she always says, as she often did to me and the rest of those she loved, “I love you, baby.”

I love you, too, Lovie. I always will.

Lorna Collins, February 3, 2011