Okay, today I’m starting yet another series of adventures. The first is going to be on our trip to New Mexico in July of 2022, and the second is about our trip to New England the following August. We didn’t mean to take two trips in a row like that. In fact, things got kind of hard on us because we ended up taking two journeys so close together.
But, unfortunately, there was a reason for our haste. You see, the trip to New Mexico...Albuquerque, to be precise...wasn’t planned. It was done because of a death.
Here’s the thing. We are reaching that stage in our lives when, slowly but surely, some of our friends are moving towards the conclusions of their roles here on earth. Oh, we are not yet “old,” whatever you mean by that complicated term, but we are also no longer “middle aged.” Not technically, anyway. At 65, I’m “young” and healthy, but I’m not at a midpoint. I’m probably not going to see my 170th birthday. And just as well. I’m not sure I’d want to. Imagine the problems upon donning a set of Speedos.
Putting it bluntly, we are starting to lose friends. For example...you know I used to publish books on a small scale. Never made any money at it, but I did it. One of the authors I published was Linda Yiannakis, who -- along with her husband, Andrew -- I actually met in New Mexico.
I wasn’t real close to Linda, but we were a bit more than just business acquaintances. You tend to get to know the people whose books you edit, and I did two of hers, both YA novels. Later, when I decided to get out of the publishing business, I helped her self-publish the same books. You can see them here if you’re interested: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Yiannakis/e/B073VB761M/
Anyway, when I first met her, she seemed the very picture of health. She was, among many things, an accomplished martial artist. But, then, a few years back, her health seemed to take a turn for the worse. I never knew all the details, but I learned that at one point she had shingles, and that the disease had spread to her eyes...a thought to make anyone shudder. She appeared to recover from that, but somehow, she didn’t seem quite the same.
About the image: This is a piece of digital art I did back in 2020, while we still lived in Albuquerque. It’s entitled “Winter Desert,” and I felt it rather fit the mood of this piece. The road goes on forever...and that is, perhaps, for the best.
Martha and I moved to Texas, but I kept in touch with Linda and Andrew via Facebook. This year, 2022, I discovered that Linda was reading “the Martha Chronicles.” She started posting responses to my ramblings--frequently saying things that were funny, or insightful, or both. Also...and this should have tipped me off...she started asking questions. Where had I bought the ramps for Martha’s wheelchair? Where did I get the safety rails for the shower? Did I put them in myself or use a handyman?
Eventually, I guessed the obvious--i.e., that she was having mobility problems and I exchanged notes with her about it. Yes, she confessed, she was having some health issues, and the doctors weren’t too sure what was going on with her. However, she said, she’d keep me and everyone else informed about her progress on Facebook. Maybe, she suggested, she’d even do a series like the Chronicles.
Oh, something I forgot. It was Linda who suggested the name “the Martha Chronicles.” I’m grateful to her for that.
Time passed. She did, indeed, post to Facebook about her trials and tribulations, always keeping a cheerful tone. But, then, one day, the posts stopped coming. Worried, I contacted her via messenger, which was when she informed me she was really, really sick--cancer, to be precise, but I think some other things were going on as well.
I emailed and messaged here regularly after that, but then, finally, she told me she was going into hospice, and noted she might not be able to hold a keyboard or read a screen for much longer, and so might not be able to respond to messages. I didn’t hear from her again, but I did send her supportive notes...saying the sort of things you say in such situations. “If there is anything I can do...” Except, of course, there isn’t.
I didn’t hear back from her, of course. But I did hear that her husband and her Hospice Nurse sometimes read the emails and messages she got from her friends. I hope she took pleasure in them.
Then, in July, what I had been expecting to happen...did happen. Her husband, Andrew, posted on Facebook that she was gone. I felt bad for her, of course, but I ached for him. I know he adored her.
I don’t believe there was a funeral, per se. Later, I heard that Andrew was having a gathering at their house in memory of her, but by that time we were already in New England. I spent a bit of time trying to think of some way I could be in Albuquerque and Boston at the same time, but it just wasn’t happening.
I guess all I can say, now, is farewell to Linda. Which means...well, her two books, the ones I published, dealt (in the first case) with a child who discovers magic powers where she least expects them, and, then, (in the second) with another child who finds himself in the company of friendly, talking dinosaurs -- specifically, as she put it in her book, “Ornithomimus edmontonicus, a feathered dinosaur that lived during the late Cretaceous Period.”
Linda, wherever you are now, I trust that you have all the magic of childhood, and the intelligent company of sweet-tempered, well-spoken, and much feathered...
More to come.
P.S. If you’re interested in martial arts, you might want to check out Andrew Yiannakis’s book, JUJUTSU: Traditions, Ways & Modern Practices: 2nd Edition, https://www.amazon.com/JUJUTSU-Traditions-Ways-Modern-Practices/dp/1091081387
Copyright©2022 Michael Jay Tucker
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