This week I lost another friend, cowboy poet and all-round good guy Mark Wilson, who often signed his emails "Your Western Pal" or "YWP."
To know Mark was to know you were in the presence of someone special, a unique individual who followed his own path. From his cabin in the western mountains, Mark mined gold, both the mineral and the written and spoken word.
His poetry was simple, elegant; cleanly spoken lines that resonated with their truth and wisdom. He lived a solitary life in many regards; his internet connection was sketchy and he lived far from what most would consider civilized. And yet this quiet, rugged man had a cosmopolitan point of view that might surprise the unwary listener.
I remember how in 2003, when my son was in Iraq, Mark emailed me asking what my son might like over there. I said reading material was at a premium so Mark shipped off a whole box of Westerns paperbacks, Derek's favorite reading at the time, with a personal note inside. That's the kind of thing Mark did. I didn't even know he'd done it until Derek came home and told me.
I searched my files for a photo of Mark, but found none. I suppose I should not be surprised; he was a retiring kind of guy. I found these words from Mark in an email written after the death of another storytelling friend, Leanne Johnson:
The Portugese have a proverb: "The dead open the eyes of the living."
Yes, my eyes are wet with loss and sorrow
yet mingled with the light of new understanding.
Even in her untimely dying, she teaches me about living.
Farewell for now, My Western Pal.
Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.