Margaret (Babb) Martinez, 1957-2022

We all have our little superstitions, though many do not like to admit it. I have my own, including never wishing a friend a happy birthday on their Facebook page because it seems that every time I do, that person passes away.

While it isn’t true, it has happened enough times and registered so plainly in my psyche that I avoid doing it. And as I finally remove it from my mind, it happens again.

Last night I learned a childhood and lifelong friend passed away. Margaret Babb, now Margaret Martinez, had spent the last few years fighting cancer.

Happily, she was surrounded by family as she finally closed her eyes one final time on this earthly plane. I pray she is swimming with the whales that she dearly loved in the expanse of that big Pacific ocean she knew so well.

We first met in 1967 while moving into our new home, next door to the Babbs. They had four girls, and we spent the day playing more than helping pack stuff into the house.

One evening, a year or so after the family moved away following the father’s death, the girls and their mom came up for a visit. While away, she had developed into a young woman — but I did not understand this.

To me, she was jus’ Margaret, the same girl that roughhoused and played grab-ass with me for years. So, I commenced with roughhousing and grab-assery.

When she finally had enough, she spiked me in the grass, holding my arms down and over my head, and with her large breasts, that I had loosed a few moments before, began beating me in the face with them until I had a couple of fat lips and a bloody nose. When she finally got off me, I understood full well what “knock it off,” meant.

“What happened to you?” was the question when I walked inside the house.

“I hit myself in the face with the basketball.”

Hey, it’s difficult as a 12 or 13-year-old boy to admit you’ve been beaten up by a girl, let alone that her boobs left me bloodied.

She smiled at me as I disappeared to the bathroom to clean up. I learned my lesson and never played grab-ass with any girl again.

Later, she apologized, and I told her, “I’m the one who needs to apologize,” which I did.

When we reconnected a few years ago, we both had a good laugh over the incident. It is that laughter and those chats that I’m going to miss.

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