Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Farewell, My Friend

Martha Callahan called me to let me know that Charlie passed away this afternoon.

I was able to talk to him for a little while last week when he was moved to hospice. He didn't want anyone to blog about it until after he was gone. Charlie, being Charlie, didn't want us to fret over him. Martha has asked me to write a little something to let all his friends know.

I met Charlie when I started my blog 6 years ago. He was my first friend in blogland. We bonded over a mutual loathing of Nora Roberts and her writing, if you can believe it. :-) Although we've never met in person, we've talked on the phone from time to time over the years.

During a conversation after Christmas, he wanted his blog friends to know how much you meant to him. He hadn't been able to get out and around for quite a while, and having you in his life became a whole new world. And near the end, during our last conversation, he was thinking of us---people he'd never met in real life---but people who brought a lot of joy to him.

I looked around for an appropriate poem or quote to use for this---something solemn and deep and meaningful. But every time I found a poem with possibilities, I could just hear him snorting into my ear, "what a load of crap!"

So what would Charlie have said? I imagine it would have been something like "See, I told you I was sick!" That would have been more his style, smartass that he was.

There's an old Inuit legend that talks about the stars in the night sky. "Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy."

I want to remember you with that, Charlie.

Tonight I'm going to go outside and tell the stars how much I'm going to miss you. I hope you can hear me.

Godspeed, my dear, dear friend.

If anyone wants to say words in celebration of Charlie's life, I'm sure it will be a comfort to Martha.

Blessings to all,
Attila the Mom


Ponita said...

Oh dear Charlie... RIP, my friend. I really like that Inuit thing about the stars being lost loved ones. That means I can add Charlie to the rest of those I know are up there.

Warm hugs to Martha, for despite the longheld knowledge that Charlie was slowly slipping away, the loss of him must be devastating for her. At least, he is at peace now and can breathe easily.

Thank you for letting us know, Attila the Mom.

I will miss you, Charlie. Keep your eye peeled for Joe, the giant blue-eyed horse. He'll be there to take you riding whenever you want. xoxoxo

Cathy said...

Chuck, I hope you're at the Rainbow Bridge right now seeing all the little critters you've missed so much.  Say hi to Mom and Dad for me when you see them.  Until we meet again,
       Love, your little sister

Linda Koons said...

I talked to Martha a little while ago too.  She's a peach, as Charlie so
often said.  I hope, Attila, that you will pass our comments on to her
-- I'm sure there will be a slew of them.   As she told me, she's not a
blogger, and she's not likely to read them here herself.

When I was a kid, I tried a few times to connect with a pen pal---it
never quite worked.  If you had told me five years ago that I could make
fast friends with someone over the internet, without ever meeting in
person, I would not have believed it.  But then I "met" Charlie through
the LibraryThing website's book discussion threads.   He discovered my
passion for Faulkner, and asked me to be his "coach".  At age 62 (or
thereabouts) he had decided to give Mr. Bill a chance, and he asked me
where to start.   He may not have expected such an enthusiastic
response, but I was simply thrilled to have a willing victim, and even
more excited when he took my suggestions and ran with them.  We had many
wonderful conversations on-line, and later over the phone, about
Faulkner and our other mutual favorite, James Lee Burke.   A smartass he
was, but he was also a smart man.   I will miss him and his unique

I'll be bold enough to offer a poem that I hope he wouldn't have found too full of crap:

Dirge Without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Syd said...

I am so sorry to hear about Charlie.  Bless his heart.  My condolences to you, Martha.  I know  that you will miss him as will all his friends. 

Elisabeth said...

Farewell, Charlie.  It's so sad to bid another blogger friend goodbye.  Thanks for letting us know, Attila.  Another star shines for Charlie.  I wish his family my condolence.  Charlie's blog remains a tribute to him, and a reminder of the kind and witty, intelligent man he was.  

tiffintui said...

I too "met" Charlie at LIbraryThing.  He got a kick out of something I had said, dropped me a note, I began to follow his blog and every now and then one of us would write to the other.  His innate gentleness and kindness were rare and fine.  His unabashed love for his Martha warmed me.  But most of all it was that crackling sense of humour that endeared him to me, his ability to laugh in the face of brutal adversity.  

I like the thought of Charlie being a star beaming down on those of us lucky enough to have known him, Attila, whether in person or on the hinterweb so thanks for that image.  Inhale the universe now, Charlie, those miserable earthbound lungs of yours finally left behind.

Warmest thoughts to Martha.

Sharon said...

Dear, dear Charlie, who made me laugh, and cry, at regular intervals. One of the first blogs I ever read, and one I always wanted to read more of. It was words on a screen that first brought me to you, but now I can't find the right words to say goodbye - and I know that's because I really don't want to. You made a big difference to us all Charlie - thank you.


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littlelightinlondon said...

Sending you my love, Martha. Charlie's character shot across the world with his writing and made an impact upon me. I'm therefore certain he could shine from the stars. RIP Charlie. x

Kim Ayres said...

They say you can measure Internet time in doggy years - about 7 times the rate. If that's the case, then I knew Charlie for 42 years...

His keen insights, sharp wit and warm heart all contributed to the man I was proud to have as a friend.

Part of me didn't really believe this day would come, even though I knew it was on the cards from very early on in our friendship.

Finally you're free from the pain and strain old friend.

Most of all, my thoughts are with Martha ((HUGS))

Pat said...

Charlie was much loved and will be missed by so many of us.  I send  my deepest sympathy to his beloved Martha.  I treasure the book he sent me - 'This time together.'  We were lucky to have spent time with Charlie.  I wish it could have been longer.
Charlie was always a star.

savannah said...

Charlie, I miss you so much already, sugar! You helped me in ways you probably never even knew through some difficult times with just a few well chosen words and insights. It was always a delight when a new post of yours would show up on my blogroll because I knew I'd have some fine reading ahead. I hope you knew how much I appreciated being added to your sidebar list of blogs. Rest well, dear Friend.

Martha, you have my deepest condolences. xoxo

Bibliophilebythesea said...

Charlie, you and your snarky posts will be missed my friend.  May the afterlife be pain and suffering free.

Martha, you are in our thoughts at this difficult time.

CiCi Winningham said...

So long, dear Charlie. Thank you for the many things you taught me in your blog and emails. Your snippy snappy way of writing was in contrast to my gushing mush in my first blog. You were always a breath of fresh air to me even as you labored for that in real life. I sure wish you could let us know what it is like there so I would know what to pack.

Martha, I send you hugs of comfort. 

Attila the Mom, great job writing this post. You kept the spirit Charlie would want.

DJan Stewart said...

It's been more than a year since he sort of signed off. I will miss him, but I am also very privileged to have know the professor through his blog. My sincere condolences to Martha.

Alice said...

Gone but not forgotten.

Deanna Schrayer said...

Somehow, upon seeing there was a post in my reader, I knew that Charlie had moved on. Martha, and Attila, you have my deepest condolences, (as well as all of Charlie's friends - virtual or no). But, as you said Attila, Charlie wouldn't want us to sulk and boo-hoo, he'd want us to celebrate. And so we shall.
I'm ashamed to say I didn't comment often enough, but that doesn't mean that Charlie's words didn't touch me - they did, and deeply. I discovered Charlie when a friend told me about his post "Alcoholic". When I read those heart-wrenching words, I was floored. I cried. And I was so glad to have found such an honest, down-to-earth blogger friend. And Charlie was kind enough to visit my sites and comment too. He was one of the most "genuine" people I've ever met, if only virtually.
I'll miss you Charlie. Have fun out there!

Philip Dodd said...

Time to rest i suppose. I'll miss your spirit, your fight, your humour, and your hard earned wisdom. The world is a sadder place without you, but it will keep spinning and as i promised you i will keep your memory alive by periodically awarding the Charlie award to great bits of writing. It's very odd writing to you when you're not there to read and i feel quite sad, but I'll keep you in my thoughts my friend.

Martha - I know he must leave a large hole in your life. You have my deepest heartfelt sympathy.


Robbie Grey said...

His posts were sometimes insightful, often funny, and always heartfelt. Goodbye, Professor.

Murr Brewster said...

Charlie might have been the first person to put me on his blogroll. I was so amazed, but settled right down in his classroom and put most of my spitballs away. Good teachers are generous to their very marrow. I read every word, and his words shone brighter backlit by his love for Martha. 

Mapstew said...

Farewell Charles, I will miss you.  :¬)


lisleman said...

Thanks for writing this Attila.  I believe all his readers knew him without meeting him.  We connected with words.  I enjoyed exchanging comments with him.  He will be missed. 

hope said...

As sad as this makes me, I still envision Charlie looking down on us, all with tear filled eyes, and muttering, "What a bunch of sissies!"   :)

My last dealings with Charlie were typical: he sent a gift for my seniors and praised me for the ability to write about feelings in a way he couldn't.  I don't think anyone's ever made me more proud of being able to string a sentence together.

Much love to Martha, who answered my thank you for the books to let me know that Charlie was headed toward the rainbow bridge.   We're all bummed...but I'm betting those well loved pets are wagging their tails in joy.  RIP dear friend.

Philip Dodd said...

Here's my small tribute to Charlie. I'm sure he realised I'd write this. I'm raising a glass to you Charlie.

Eryl Shields said...

RIP Charlie, I wondered what that very bright star was I saw driving over the pennines this evening, now I know. Thank you for shining on my world.

Deepest condolences, Martha, and all your family.

Trina said...

Charlie... Ill take a deep breathe of fresh air for you here in the PNW!~ I know you would enjoy that! Ill miss you! T

Trina said...

I know you wont see this post charlie but I made a good one for you I know you would laugh at! I can pull a funny every now and again! Will miss you and cant wait to officially meet someday...

Martha- Lots of hugs and I am so sorry for your loss Charlie really was very special!

Trina said...

Charlie.... A tribute to you, hugs to Martha!

dysfunction said...

Speechless. Rest in peace, and condolences to his loved wife, Martha.

bbruederlin said...

Somehow, I thought you would always be with us, Charlie.  There didn't seem to be any obstacle that your sassy sense of humour could not overcome.  I think of you now, with your puppies, making them laugh until they cry, like you did to us mere mortals who were so blessed to call you friend.
My heart grieves for you, Martha. Please know that all of us here in the blogosphere wish we could be there to lend a shoulder.  You are in our hearts.
Thank you, Attila the Mom, for letting us know. 

Kristy Billingslea said...

Reading what I have of Charlie's love for Martha, my deepest sorrow and regrets are extended to her. Truly a loss to many. 

Joanna Jenkins said...

Stopping by from Attila's to send my deepest sympathies to Martha and Charlie's family.
xo jj

Joni said...

GodSpeed Charlie.  May Martha leave this blog forever .  It is a diamond.

Philip Dodd said...

I just spotted that Charlie has gained some new followers for his blog in the last couple of days. How great is that?

fay said...

Haven't quite grasped this yet.  I tried to write something good for you, Charlie.  I hope it's ok.

M Witzl said...

Hey Charlie -- I know you're out there, somewhere.

I loved your first blog name, 'First Book of Testicles', though 'Hounded' is a good one too. You introduced me to some great books, and made me laugh with your brave sarcasm, and your stories of Martha -- it was obvious how much you loved her.

We'll all miss you.

Macy said...

So upset to read this - knowing it was coming doesn't make the day any easier. I felt like Charlie was an old friend.

Deepest, deepest condolences to Martha, friends and family. He's so missed.

Anonymous said...

You are a very bright person!
Amber Sports 30-Foot Speed Agility Ladder

Kevin said...

Oh hell...

Best wishes to all Charlie's friends and family. I'll miss the quiet, sardonic chuckle in the comments box.

stacybuckeye said...

The blogosphere is a little dimmer now.  I'm sorry to see that Charlie is gone.

Meg said...

I'm so sorry that he's gone, Martha. Charlie was a wonderful man. One of my favorite posts of his appeared on his old Admiral Pooper Scooper blog several years ago (I wish that blog was still around). It was about what would happen if all of us Blogger friends met up in real life. Your husband touched my life so deeply even though we had never met, although I'm pretty sure the way he described our hypothetical meeting in the real world was right on and I would have been the quiet wallflower. I will really miss him. 

Matilda said...

I know the feeling of losing something that is dear to you. I may be a stranger to you but i hope that grief will not stay long. 

Ed Butowsky

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