Vol. 7    No. 21
OCTOBER 18, 2012

The Capital City Hues
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EDITORIAL STAFF

Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Clarita G. Mendoza
Sales Manager

Contributing Writers
Rita Adair, Ike Anyanike, Paul
Barrows, Alfonso Zepeda
Capistran, Theola Carter, Fabu,
Andrew Gramling, Lang Kenneth
Haynes, Rebecca Her, Heidi
Pascual,  & Martinez White
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                Winter thoughts
Now that I have turned 60-years old — while I feel relatively fit and ready to go for at least another 40
years — there are some things that I must come to grips with. One of those is that more rapidly now, the
cornerstones of my existence will slowly be taken away. It seems that there isn’t a week that goes by
that someone dies whom I know, whether it is someone down the block or a movie star or a politician.

All of these have served as the backdrop of my life and it seems that backdrop will slowly, I hope, fade to
white where these cornerstones only exist in my imagination. I have had to come to grips with that as an
older person who would be eligible to retire and collect Social Security — unless they mess with it in
Washington, D.C. — in about five years. That is the circle of life and I can accept that.

But what I have a hard time accepting is when people die way too young, when they are still in the prime
of their lives. It grieves me to see that happen even though there is nothing I or anyone else can ultimately
do to stop the process.

Sunday was a double whammy day for me. On most Sunday mornings, a group of friends and I go on a
three-mile walk and then go to breakfast to catch up with each other. It is an important, “private” time for
me that allows me to relax and feel at least for a moment that I am doing something healthy for myself.

This past Sunday, I learned that Martha “Kitty” Ortiz Green had died. Kitty was a 42-year old mother of
four who contracted breast cancer over 10 years ago. I interviewed Kitty for an article back in April, I
believe. And I took a photo of Green with her four children and her sister YaYa whom Green expected to
raise her children after she died. The precipitating event for the fundraiser was that Kitty didn’t want to
have her children dip into the life insurance money they would receive after she died to pay for her
funeral. So they held a fundraiser at the Fitchburg Community Center and the community turned out to
support her.

I have seen Kitty from afar the last couple of months and I had foolish notions that perhaps Kitty had licked
her disease even though I had been told that it had spread throughout her body. But I always thought that
Kitty looked good, realizing of course from the interview that Kitty was not going to burden others with the
cross that she was bearing.

And so, on Saturday, October 13, Martha “Kitty” Ortiz Green died. I pray for her children and for YaYa that
she has the fortitude and family and community support to raise these four children the way that Kitty
would want her to.

And then later that day, I got a call from my brother Steve. Steve LeBarron, my sister Katy’s husband, had
been killed in a freak accident at their cottage on the St. Croix River. He was 53-years-old. Steve loved my
sister and their son immensely and I could only imagine the great hurt that the two of them were feeling.
They tried their best to save Steve, but were unable to.

On Tuesday, some of us family members went up to Minneapolis to be with Katy because Tuesday was
her birthday. Katy tried her best to contain her pain, but you could still see it in her eyes. I’m not very good
at comforting those who are dying or have recently lost someone with whom they are very close. But I
went to just be there and show her by my presence that I cared and that her family had her back.

And over the course of the next eight hours, we did talk a little bit here and there as Katy maneuvered
through her grief and met friends and neighbors who came to the door.

And one of the most beautiful things that I witnessed was that her neighbors, many of whom did not stop
in, left 23 pots of perennial plants on her porch and steps. There are enough of them so that Katy and her
son can plant a small garden in memory of Steve and have a living memory of him at the house. I thought
that was so beautiful.

I bring Steve and Kitty up not to seek pity. I bring them up to celebrate their lives and to commemorate how
much they meant to the people in their lives. They had truly made a positive mark on the world.

It is a tragedy that they both died so young. Everyone, please cherish you loved ones for you never know
how long you have them. Celebrate their lives now and not when they pass from this earth.

Rest in peace Kitty and Steve.