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In Memoriam — Al Martinez: More Than a Life Well-Lived

al and friends
Adam Weatherall

His voice was deep; his soul was too. His humor made you rock with laughter; his insight rocked your world. I never got to squeeze Al Martinez’s hand or give him a hug, though I often wanted to. We lived six hours apart, but when we talked by phone, Al, who died Jan. 12, was in my living room, sitting next to my desk.

We laughed at each other’s jokes and exchanged sometimes thoughtful, sometimes silly emails about the topics he chose for his weekly Latino Life blog at AARP. As his editor, I knew that each blog might arrive filled with poignant, piquant, poetic or sometimes just peaceful prose. But it was always brilliant, brimming with life lessons learned and earned during 85 years.

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I’m not a martini drinker, but I know Al was. How I would have loved to raise a glass, listen for the clink, hear his laughter and, sitting alongside him, sip from his fount of knowledge.

Instead, I will reread his blogs, one by one. I will soak in the wisdom of A Deer in the Garden, a Cat in the Box, roar with laughter reading King of the Pill, brush away tears with him in Memories of a Daughter Lost and share in the hope of A New America: Who Says We Can’t Do It?

Then I will sigh, smile and marvel at the joy in Dawn of a New Morning, when he took his first step after a long, hard illness. “I took the first step of my new life today,” he wrote. “It was only kind of a baby shuffle, but, by God, to me it was the dawn of a new morning. It had freedom written all over it.”

Al, mi buen amigo, freedom truly is yours now. No need for walkers, commas or editors. You are perfect.

Photo: Courtesy, Al Martinez

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