A blog of general comment by one of L.A.'s best known commentator/essayists. Humor, drama, pathos, satire and, well, everything else.
Night quickened into a golden morning on the day Cindy died.
It glowed over the still dampened leaves of the oak trees in our yard and reflected off the windows of the house.
Days of rain had ceased but the world continued to glisten with an afterthought of the storms that had shrouded us for what seemed an eternity.
Our extended family of 12 took turns standing around our Cindy’s bedside and watching her struggle for life with short, shallow breaths and then at last sigh and settle gracefully into her dreams.
For days she had been in a semi-conscious state, awakening long enough to whisper her pleasures and annoyances in words we had to lean closer to hear, but the disease that was taking her life would not even allow her that, and she drifted into a coma.
Her full name was Cinthia Louise. She was 59, born in May, 1951, just two months after I had been shipped out by the Marines to fight in the Korean War. When I came home on a rainy night in San Francisco she was handed to me by my wife Joanne who said simply, “Meet your daughter.”
She was our first born, to be followed by another daughter, Linda, and a son, Allen. Like her father, she was often defiant and willful but also possessed a wicked sense of humor and could laugh out loud even when the joke was on her.
Two and a half years ago after a routine colonoscopy she was told by an oncologist at Sacramento’s Kaiser Hospital that she had inoperable cancer of the liver and her days were limited. It stunned us all. We began asking why her?
Cindy had never smoked and only drank alcoholic beverages in moderation. She lived alone in her roomy apartment with three cats she dearly loved, not far from her boyfriend’s home. While she didn’t exactly live on a diet of spinach and carrots, neither did she limit herself to Fatburgers and candy bars. Her culinary choices lay somewhere in between.
A polished photographer, she was creative in many ways, working with colorful tiles to fashion designs and scenes on table tops and walls, and crocheting wall hangings for special days. On one of them was written her version of a Biblical passage: “There is a time to be born and a time to die and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Cindy loved “fun times” as she called them and managed to work them in between a full time job with Sacramento County and reading half the night. Books became her real world as she unraveled the mysteries of her life. All the rest was fantasy.
We are planning a memorial service in April to say the formal kinds of goodbye to a child-woman who lived and died as time determined, but she will exist until the end of my days at a place in memory where there are no tears and where one never has to say goodbye.
Al Martinez is a Pulitzer Prize winning essayist, former columnist for the Los Angeles Times, author of a dozen books, an Emmy-nominated creator of prime time television shows, a travel writer, humorist and general hell-raiser. Try him. He's addictive.
Joanne Cinelli Martinez is composed of artist, poet, gourmet chef, interior decorator, photographer, volunteer, and all around intelligent person; also the life long partner and care taker of the simple but happy little man who runs the blog. She views him with suspicion and uncertainty. It is a cautionary love story.