This is the Marty I remember.
A friend messaged me this week about the passing of Marty that stirred up a lot of sweet memories of my friend. It's now been more than six years since he passed, at the age of 36.
Marty was my junior high crush. When I worked in the office, long before privacy concerns, I'd looked up his information card in the file cabinet just to learn his full name: Martin Antonio Flores, and his birthdate, Dec. 15, 1969. I finally worked up the nerve to give him a birthday/Christmas present in the 8th grade. It was a bracelet with his name on it. He was very shy and sweet about it, as I presented it to him after the Christmas concert in the bandhall that night the same week as his birthday.
It was more than four years later, almost the end of our senior year, sitting next to one another in Mrs. Rayburn's English class, when I glanced down and saw him wearing an anklet with writing on it. I asked him about it and he looked at me with his trademark twinkle in his eyes and said, "Don't you remember?" Yes, he'd kept it, and worn it, and I'd never even noticed.
Marty was the one who never bothered with superficial relationships. If you engaged in a conversation with him, he was totally there, present, interested, passionate. To this day, when I hear UB40's "Red, Red Wine" on the radio I see him, bobbing his head and smiling at me.
The entries in his guestbook are indicative of the presence of life he brought to those who were blessed enough to know him, even for such a brief time. And there is now an endowment in his name for students of musical composition and theory at the University of Houston. He would be humbled. And his eyes would surely be twinkling.