On Sunday June 26, Margie and I ran the Mango Days 5K, held each year at Ala Moana Park, not far from Waikiki Beach. The run is named after our daughter Patty’s book, Mango Days, which I compiled from her personal journal, poems and letters to her best friend. Patty (above right) died of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 18, before she was able to finish even one year of college.
Very recently, in an ongoing bid to clean up my office, I was sorting through saved mail when I came across a handwritten letter from Alicia Parlette (above left), then employed by the San Francisco Chronicle. She had read Mango Days and was deeply touched.
In the letter, Alicia writes that despite a hectic personal schedule, “I had to stop everything and write to you.”
“Patty and I would have been friends, I know it. First of all she’s the only other person in the world who actually thought about being a copy editor (smiley face sketched in). Some of her personal entries . . . particularly the ones about writing resemble some of mine from when I was 16, 17, 18. And I LOVE mangoes!”
She goes on: “I lied. The thing I wanted to do after I leafed through her book wasn’t to write to you. I wanted to write her.”
“And I think I will. I do this with my mom. I write her letters and leave them on her grave until the cemetery keepers throw them away. She and Patty had the same disease, you know. Another connection.”
The letter was written in October 2005. Seven years earlier, Alicia had herself developed cancer, experiencing pain in the area of her right hip, forcing her to drop out of cross country running.
That’s still another connection. Patty, too, loved to run, and at age 17 completed the Honolulu Marathon. Crossing that finish line was perhaps the proudest moment of her life.
Alicia died on April 22, 2012. During her final days, friends read aloud to her, To Kill A Mocking Bird, her favorite book. She died twenty minutes after the last chapter was finished.
I wish Patty and Alicia could have met. Who knows? Maybe they are having a good conversation even now!