Sad Goodbyes

Sad Goodbyes

I’ve lost two important people in my life recently. Al Martinez died on Monday, January 12, 2015. He had been a columnist for the Los Angeles Times for many years. He wrote several books, and I met him on more than one occasion at his book signings. At that time he also read from his books, and he had such a way with words.

In 2012, the Huntington Library had an exhibit titled “Al Martinez: Bard of L.A.” The dictionary defines “bard” as “an exalted national poet.” He was that and more. He was my literary hero. I wanted to be like him when I grew up. He was warm, witty, and very human.

He taught writing, and believing I could learn much from him, I gave serious thought to enrolling in his class. It was held in Topanga Canyon, and the time and distance were deciding factors against my pursuing it. I wonder how it would have been. I know I would have had a fear of disappointing him somehow, but the joy of learning from him would have been wonderful.

He shared his gift with the world, and, at least in my corner of the world, his death is a great loss. His words live on, in columns I have saved, and in copies of his books that I treasure. Our words stay around, long after we aren’t here to read them to others.

Then, on January 18th, I lost a writer friend. Marv Rotor was a fellow member of the Golden Pen Writers Guild. Marv was a retired engineer, and he loved science fiction. I have his book The Three Circle Charm on my bookshelf, and I treasure it, and the memory of him.

He was also a member of a barbershop quartet. His group performed at different community functions and sang at local hospitals and convalescent homes. On Valentine’s Day one year, he and his group came to the facility where my mother lived. Marv knew my mother was there, and on one of their songs, Marv sang directly to her. She was thrilled. Marv secured a place in my heart for his kindness and loving nature.

Another member of the Golden Pen Writers Guild, Barb Gassner, recently lost her brother-in-law to illness. She wrote something for her sister to help her cope with the loss. This was written for her sister, but it is also for anyone who has lost a loved one. Here, with her permission, is what she wrote:


The Healing Heart


The heart cannot be hurried

When healing from a loss –

Precious is the timing

Of this fine line to cross.



Loved ones are not forgotten

They live forever in your heart

Recalling memories helps the healing –

Each one a smile imparts.


Sadness is your constant comrade –

For broken pieces still remain

Missing and unfinished –

The heart sings a sad refrain.


Day by day you’ll feel a difference

As you journey down the road –

Honoring life in all its wonder

And all the good it has bestowed.


It’s the wonder of tomorrow

Bringing hope to you each night

Keeping those no longer with you

Held within your heart so tight.


No need to hurry in your healing

Honoring a life is not a race –

The gift of time will mend your heart

As each piece finds its perfect place.


Barbgassner © 2015

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