I am honored to share that I am a part of the “100 Artists to Fight Cancer” to help Virginia Spiegel reach her overall goal of $250,000 for the American Cancer Society! She’s just $10,000 away! Mark your calendar—10:00 AM CST on February 4, 2015 is when you could win a piece of art from one of your 100 favorite fiber artists. (Details can be found here.)
If you have just a couple of minutes to read further, I’d like to tell you about the piece of art I am going to make, and why.
For 100 Artists, I am making a piece in honor of my college friend Fr. TJ Martinez, who at the age of 44 lost his battle against cancer just this past Friday.
TJ’s smiling face was was one of the very first to greet me when I arrived at Boston College. During our college days, we were both rather involved in our undergraduate government; both were a part of a two-year leadership program; both helped run a student center for activities on campus; and even dated for a short spell (but realized we were better as good friends). He was also my confirmation sponsor, and when the confirmation mass was over, he gave me a giftwrapped book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss.
And the places he went. He earned not one…not two…not three…not four…but FIVE post-graduate degrees, including a law degree from UT-Austin and a Master’s at Harvard (where, not surprisingly, he gave the commencement address).
A man of deep faith, TJ eventually became a Jesuit priest, and his most stunning feat to date: raised millions of dollars in Houston to found a college prep school for children from impoverished families—children who otherwise most likely would never have dreamed of going to college.
His school, Cristo Rey Jesuit has had two graduating classes thus far…and, wonderfully, all of the students have gone on to college!
This past January TJ invited Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, to keynote a luncheon at his school that I was fortunate enough to attend.
The Dog Whisperer’s presence in Houston caught the attention of the local media. Here’s a video clip of TJ with Cesar: http://www.click2houston.com/news/dog-whisperer-cesar-milan-visits-local-high-school/23950332
At that luncheon TJ said something so funny, so embarrassing to my entire table. With his arm around me, he shouted, “Hey everybody, this is my friend, POKEY! We went to BOSTON COLLEGE together! We dated but she turned me DOWN…so I had to go to JESUS!”
(TJ could be cheeky too.)
That is the last time I saw my friend. In the spring, TJ was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer, a diagnosis he accepted with grace. His message to all after he was diagnosed was not to be sad, but to live joyfully.
I am choosing the joyous colors of TJ’s school (with a little pink thrown in) for my 100 Artists piece:
I don’t know what I am going to create yet, but I know what the title will be: “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
That title feels pretty perfect, just like my perfect, always smiling friend.
I promise I’ll do right by you with my artist piece, TJ!
In loving memory,
Love this post, Pokey. A wonderful tribute. xx
Oh, Pokey. A lovely tribute to a beautiful person.
Thanks for sharing what true friendship can be like. Marvelous tribute!
Such a beautiful post Pokey, its so hard because it seems so unfair when such a wonderful person you know dies. big hugs!
Your story is so heartfelt. I am sorry for the loss of your friend. I lost my sorority pledge daughter to breast cancer. It’s so hard to bear the heart pain when those you care about and love die so young. Hugs to you.
Awww, that was sweet!
What sweet memories Pokey! So sorry you/we lost such a giving soul so soon…………..Houston will miss him lot.
Our lives are so enriched by the friendships we are Blessed with, and the memories we are fortunate to have and to hold in our hearts after our friend’s passing to God’s House.
Thank you so very much Pokey for sharing your wonderful memories of your friend TJ, and the quilt you will make in his memory.
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A lovely tribute to your friend TJ. He sounds like a great guy, he accomplished much in his short time. How blessed you have been to have such a special friend!
What a lovely tribute to your friend, Pokey. I am sure he is smiling down upon you from heaven. Congrats for being one of the 100 artists!
I am sorry your friend died; what a beautiful memorial for someone very unique. I will look forward to seeing your special piece when finished!
Pokey, sorry to hear of the loss of such a wonderful friend. TJ was a remarkable person. I look forward to seeing the work of art you make in his honor.