By Steve Sprinkel
Photograph by Claud Mann
9 February 2010
Marty Fujita died yesterday. She left much unfinished business for us to continue and an example of dedication and inspiration that will serve to guide us in fulfilling the work she began. Death mitigates one’s lack of focus and exposes the false calm of procrastination, neither of which afflicted Marty Fujita, whose goals are now ours more than ever. She was a co-founder of Food for Thought, the nonprofit group aiming to improve children’s diets in and out of school as well as educate people in the Ojai Valley about the importance of local food production.
Farmers and their friends in Ojai lost an influential champion in Marty’s passing. She truly loved food from the ground up. Money was hardly her motivation for selling fruit with Jim Churchill and Lisa Brenneis at the farmers’ market on Sunday. Neither was it the reason she helped pack fruit with them at their orchard, or why she organized countless meetings and events, networking with other groups, businesses and government to bring people together.
Marty frequently held working lunches at The Farmer and The Cook, particularly when out-of-town somebodies were in attendance. I would thank her for the honor, and she would respond with “Where else am I going to go?”
I thought she would survive cancer. Now I am asking, “What else can I do?” I would have continued on in the work in any case, but I feel like a big sail has been torn in half when the boat is merely halfway home. The work she did, and how she did it, still stands, like the empty mast, but the energy is lost. Replicating her vitality is impossible. Keeping on course is more likely. Making arrival a certainty depends on what some call manifestation. Marty Fujita’s dream is already upon us, unfolding in small ways that will probably make the grander plans fall into place. The hurt of it is that it’s way past time.
During life’s fretful journey through death, you’ll lose me and I’ll lose you. When I do, I will use your passing to make my own remaining steps a bit bolder, if for only a moment. The perfection of humanity is unlikely but with gratitude enjoyed piecemeal. Nonetheless there is some thanks in that gift of blazing early death, like shooting stars that light up cold space.
Marty’s leaving was earlier than deserved, these words inspired not only because she’s gone, but also because of her spirit. Her family pays her greater honor. I expect to still see her daughters, Taylor and Dana, filling bags with tangerines and celery on Sundays. You may be there also to commune with the good sharing to be made then at the tables Marty helped set.