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“All my trials, Lord, soon be over”

November 11, 2011

This is Rick’s brother, Mike, with this update. I know that all of you have been wondering how Rick is doing these days since his posts have gotten less and less frequent. I open this post with a beautiful video and incredible voice of Joan Baez because of the ability of music and art to touch us in ways most human endeavors can’t.

Joan’s angelic voice elicits in most of us powerful and tender emotions as she sings this lovely folk song, based on a Bahamian lullaby that tells the story of a mother on her death bed as she comforts her children. The words also express a time we knew was coming for Rick, but we hoped somehow it would be delayed for much longer. Still, that time has now arrived.

Rick stopped eating about two weeks ago due to the severe pain he experienced when food made its way to his stomach.

These days, Rick spends most of his time sleeping. The pain medication he is taking relieves most of the pain, but leaves him very tired. And while the medication causes some mental confusion, he is generally comfortable and still interacts with his wife and visitors with the same humor and concern that has always defined his relationships.

Since both Rick and his wife, Peg, both come from large families, there has been a steady stream of visitors wanting to show Rick what he means to them.

As the days of Rick’s life become fewer and fewer, however, Rick and Peg’s desire is that the number of people visiting at any one time be limited to just a very few. This is understandable as Rick still wants to listen to and be part of conversations that are taking place around him, but his medication doesn’t give him the capacity to comprehend multiple conversations. At one point last weekend, a discussion I was a part of with a few others became so intense that Rick needed to leave the room and go to bed. The discussion was one that Rick would formerly have loved to be involved in. This was a poignant indication of how mentally difficult it is for him now.

This illness has proceeded incredibly quickly. It has been just four months since he was first diagnosed. Perhaps the most remarkable fact of his illness is that he has harbored the seeds of his demise for over four decades, yet once those seeds sprouted, their destructive power ravaged Rick’s body in a very short time.

Yet, even in this short time, Rick has had the opportunity to express some of his deepest and most profound ideas about life and death.

I, for one, feel greatly privileged to have been able to read and comment on his writings here. But, more importantly, I feel greatly privileged to have been the brother of Richard Thomas LaMartina, who–as anyone who knows him his discovered–is a truly extraordinary human being.

I will continue to update his condition here and want to thank all of you who have followed Rick’s journey home. I know that your friendship and support has been extraordinary and a great solace to Rick during the final months of his life.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Elaine permalink
    November 16, 2011 4:53 pm

    Thank you Mike.
    Your brother, Rick, (my Friend) truly is an extraordinary gift. I will miss him immensely.

    My heart is there with you, Peg, All in the Family.

    Peace * Joy * Love


  2. sage permalink
    November 14, 2011 1:10 pm

    Dear Mike,
    Thank you so much for taking time to post such a difficult update……. my heart hurts for you and for all who love Rick, and most of all, for Peg. I am so grateful to have known Rick in this lifetime……. please tell him, if you would, that he is in my heart, my thoughts, and my prayers. I’m grateful he has so many good and close friends and family to be there with him now, and that you all can be there for each other, too. Sending my love, light, and gentle hugs,

  3. Laurie B. permalink
    November 13, 2011 11:00 am

    Dear Mike,

    Thank you for your update – I hold Rick and his journey and Peg and ALL who love and care for them in that peace which passes all understanding. I am grateful to have experienced a part of the journey of life with Rick and Peg.

    Megan: You captured the true essence of Rick in words. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Megan Schliesman permalink
    November 13, 2011 9:20 am

    Mike asked me to share a poem I wrote for Rick this week as I was reflecting on what I’ve gotten from Rick’s photographs across the years and his writing in these recent months. Rick and his family are my cousins. We don’t see each other enough, but I share a deep connection of affection and memory and experience.

    This is for Rick first and foremost, but also Peg, my LaMartina cousins, and everyone who loves Rick:

    Persistence of Vision
    Your beautiful eye
    sees the rise of the moon
    and the meaning of the moon’s return
    the expanse of the sky
          and the rooted strength of a sky-seeking tree
    the sweep of the land	 the curve of a hill
          and the importance of a solitary barn still standing
    the galaxy of a flower
          and the universe at the center of its spiral
    Your beautiful eye
    explores spaces:
    between being and purpose 
                        birth and death
    life on this lovely, tangible earth 
          and metaphysical mystery
    Your beautiful eye
    sees beyond science
                  behind faith
                       inside love
    forms a single image, uninterrupted:
          heart and mind and soul 
    			for ricktla
                           November 2011
  5. mokasiya permalink
    November 12, 2011 10:03 pm

    Thank you Mike in the sharing in the beauty of your brother Rick,

    In the heart of all oneness that travels the pathway of soul
    feeling the deep blessing in all the words shared
    with a journey into death
    helps us all to live life in love
    in love with all that is.

    deep peace rick to you and peg and your family and to all you have touched on your journey home.


  6. Malkah Geller permalink
    November 12, 2011 9:14 pm

    Dear Mike, thank you for sharing with us about Rick’s journey home. I too have been wanting SO MUCH to visit but understand fully his needs and those of Peg and their families. It is wonderful to know that both families have ample opportunities to share their love with Rick.

    Although I haven’t known Rick very well, I’ve always had friendly and meaningful encounters with him at the Coop or wherever our paths would cross. I know he loves Myloe, the cat that Peg and he adopted from me about 6 years ago and that connects us in a strong way. Perhaps he’s giving some comfort now.

    The love that Rick holds in his heart for all will continue to shine and blossom for those of us left behind. Rick, you will be missed mightily!

    Many blessings to you, Peg and both your families,

  7. Judith Kubish permalink
    November 11, 2011 9:17 pm

    Thank you, MIke, for sharing with us and for Rick the journey as it is proceeding,
    If you are able to tell Peg and Rick, please, we know of their love for us, we are immensely grateful to have been part of their lives thus far, and we hold all of you in our hearts and thoughts–and will continue to. Love, light, peace, in the Mystery-
    Judith and Hal

  8. Susan Louise permalink
    November 11, 2011 7:22 pm

    Dearest Rick and brother Mike, thank you both for sharing with us, with me……I feel so honored to be a part of your conscious shift from the form of physical life, leaving us with so many gifts of wisdom, a path of integrity, a revelation of mother earth that speaks all the way through any conditioning……and the heart of great spirit…the all that is..
    Thank You for all your gifts…..

    Susan Louise

  9. Jo Stothard permalink
    November 11, 2011 1:16 pm

    Mike , thank you for letting me know………….what I had sadly surmised. I am so sorry I have not been able to see Rick, but also understand. The Winter Art Festival in Madison is this weekend. He IS and will be greatly missed by many of us. Please give me a mailing address that would be best to get something to Rick and Peg.

    Rick, I am so sorry and wish you a pleasant, loving passage to your journey home!
    Love, Jo

  10. November 11, 2011 1:00 pm

    I have wanted to go see Rick SO MUCH and yet I knew that , as MIke says, he needs his precious energy just to stay focused………so I will send my deepest love vibrationally to dear, dear friend. He knows how much, and many others treasure him, and I want to bid him a safe and rich journey to the next stage of life.

    Rick, I will miss you terribly and I celebrate what you have given all of us,


  11. Kathy O'Rourke permalink
    November 11, 2011 12:14 pm

    Thank you for taking the time, Mike, to share with us. There are so many people who want to be near him right now and this is a way to expand the circle and still keep a reverent and mindful environment around him for his journey home. Rick attracts so much love and gratitude. Peace.

  12. Jane permalink
    November 11, 2011 12:13 pm

    Thank you Mike for bringing me up too date. I had e mailed Rick and was starting to worry when he did not answer back. Now I understand and I also think Rick’s illness is becoming even more real to me and all of us who have loved Rick over the years, but do not see him on a daily basis.
    I am sadden by the knowledge that Rick has pain and so very happy that you and Peg-O and the rest of his family have been right there by his side during his last journey.
    He is a lucky man to have known such powerful & great LOVE in this lifetime of his.

    Rickster, I hope to still visit you for one moment or two, but understand and respect your wishes. Thank you so much for years of making me smile when you would come too visit at Art Vision or when I’d see you in town. I will always treasure your visits here with Peg and my donkeys and mostly one significant phone conversation when I was so very scared that my missing dog(who was hit by a car) was being eaten by coyotes. I went to bed that night comforted by your wise and kind words.
    I love you much.

  13. Matthew Schliesman permalink
    November 11, 2011 12:03 pm

    Mike– I am experiencing a loss of words, which is unusual for me.

    Three of your cousins and your aunt will be in Viroqua on Sunday.

    Our thoughts are with Rick, Peg, and all of the LaMartinas.


  14. Lauren permalink
    November 11, 2011 11:23 am

    Thank you Mike, for this update. I agree: Rick is a truly extraordinary being. I feel grateful for his presence in my life.

  15. November 11, 2011 11:21 am

    Thank you, Mike, for your heartfelt post. I have to admit, when I saw that there was a new post on My Journey Home, my own heart leapt, in hope that Rick had rallied and was able to write again. But I am learning to follow his lead and accept what is.

    For me, part of “what is” is accepting the knowing deep in my being that Rick will continue to be with us. His ability to help us see ourselves will not be diminished, but expanded. His huge capacity to love will now be limitless. And we will find more reasons to laugh, because he will be able to share his humor in innumerable ways.

    Many blessings to Peg and to both Rick’s and Peg’s families and friends during this time. It’s beautiful to witness the love among you all, and it’s no surprise who’s inspiring it.

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