Monday, June 29, 2009

Found and Lost

Martin died on Sunday June 28th around 2:30 pm eastern time. It's amazing to consider that we had just found him on Facebook only a month ago. On May 28th I received this note in response to our request to add him as a friend:

Not only am I THE Martin from Fords, I am the guy who will always love you guys!
Been looking for you all for-ever... Go to www.angryoldartist.com for more info.
Far-fucking-out, man!
Peace,
Martin

Roger and I were speeding up highway 101 after leaving my mom's in Orange County. We had just pulled into the rest area at Gaviota, north of Santa Barbara when we got the call from my brother telling us that Martin was gone. We had been expecting it. The hospital had sent him home with hospice care on Thursday. The very good people of hospice helped relieve his anxiety and stress and kept him at ease while he made his final exit.

I cried for many miles while driving up the highway. That stretch of 101 is so beautiful and perfect for reflecting on life and death. The hills are golden and reach all the way to the sky and roll on to forever. There is more space and distance there without buildings or structures than almost any other place I know. There's just the crazy highway that splits the earth for us so we can hurl by at 70 mph (the posted speed limit!).

We found and lost Martin in 31 days. He was our poet painter poignant partner in life. My twin brother befriended him when we were all still in elementary school, back in 1963. Martin surprised us with his art, his passionate profundities, his professed peculiarities. We all fell in love with him, not romantically, but familiarly and it stuck for all these decades.
So, when we found him last month and learned that he was in a hospital in Tampa, Florida receiving a fourth round of chemo for acute myeloid leukemia, we sent him a little computer with a built-in camera and skype, so we could reconnect and take a good long lasting look at each other. Maybe we thought our love could save him. It's what we secretly and openly wished and almost believed. Maybe we wonder if he hung on to life long enough just so we could see each other again and say our hellos and good byes. Maybe we're just shocked and relieved that we had this wild chance to confirm what we all knew was true: We dearly, dearly loved each other.

I borrowed Martin's beautiful paintings from his angryoldartist.com website. They are "Adam and Eve", "Touch", and "You'll Get Used to It." The photo is also borrowed from the internet. It shows the land around Gaviota rest stop on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara County.

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