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It puts a man in a contemplative mood

I fell in love again last night. This time it was the girl at the tollbooth at the Fort McHenry tunnel. She was blond, hair bobbed just above the shoulders, a navy blue watch cap contrasting nicely with her orange safety vest. I could see this job wasn't her life ambition, she was working it for a greater purpose, and I wanted to know what it was, help her toward it. As she gave me my change from my $20 bill I saw a small tattoo on her forearm above her glove, I wanted to ask her about it, get a better look, but there were cars behind me...and so I moved on...

Friday, I went to the "Evening With an Angel on a Jazz Note" event for the Allison Fisher Memorial Fund. Allison was a middle school and high scholl classmate, who (I learned last year at our 20th reunion) died of breast cancer a decade ago. Also there were Alan Reese, our middle school English teacher, and old classmates Melissa Buis and Scott Winneki and Carol Gilpen. I'd seen Melissa and Carol last year at the reunion, and I see Alan around the Baltimore poetry scene, but I hadn't seen Scott since eighth grade...he's now a pediatrician! And Melissa, a professor. So we had a little mini-reunion...Alan brought some old photos, and Scott brought old yearbooks. And we reminisced about Allison.

And about another old classmate, Tracy Tressler. Tracy died earlier this month, lung cancer taking her much too early. Besides our middle school experience, Tracy had gone to UMCP, she was an RTVF major and our paths crossed a few times there. After that she moved out to LA to work in television, but a few years ago she decided to leave that path and become an English teacher. It was right about that same time she got diagnosed with lung cancer. But in the two or three years she had, she finished a Master's degree, got married, and gave birth to a daughter.

Alan, Scott, and I went to the memorial service yesterday. They had a photo slideshow, which seems to be becoming an standard feature of memorial services. Some old childhood photos, some vacation shots, some of her with her still-new husband. And then at the end, the heartbreakers, the photos of her with her infant daughter, the cancer and its treatment taking its toll on Tracy, her balding and the skin hanging lose and discolored from her, the spectre's head becoming visible, her tiny daughter - they had to induce early labor - lying on her chest, death and life in the same moment, a picture more than a thousand words can say.

It puts a man in a contemplative mood.

And then, last night, our good friend Nicole's LaCause's birthday party, 40 years for one of the strongest spirits it has been my privilege to encounter, most of my Zelda's friends there...again, it puts a man in a contemplative mood.



I have written a book about Tracey, titled, :"Don't Forget the Flippin' E." I will send it free, and autographed- to anyone who would like it. I am dying to talk to Melissa Buis. She and Tracey were great friends. BTW, Tracey and I were both non-smokers. Want to emphasize that lung cancer is increasing in non-smoking females and they don't know why.

Bella was not induced - just came early. Tracey was with her for 2 months.

Thank you for this post.

Tom, I'm just seeing this. Do you have Diane's contact information? Or could you pass on mine?

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