Over the weekend I learned that a good friend and prolific writer, Caleb Pirtle III, had recently died. I never knew he was sick, so I was just stunned to get the news from another writer friend.
When I found out what he’d been dealing with, bone cancer, I was even more stunned and surprised. Not that he hadn’t shared the news about his cancer. He was a private person in many ways, and we weren’t as close as he was to other friends that he might have shared that with.
So it wasn’t his reticence that stopped me in my tracks. What still has me reeling even a few days later is the fact that even though he had such a painful disease, he was always so quick to offer prayers and support for my painful health problems. Never mentioning that he could relate on such a personal level.
Whenever we shared news in emails, he never made anything about him. It was always about the other person. Never once, in all the times I lamented about my condition and how it was impacting my work, did he deflect, as we so often do. “I know how you feel, I….”
Think of how hard that is to do. How many times we deflect even in well-meaning ways.
When we communicated, Caleb would share about his writing, his wife, Linda, and their family. When I’d ask if I’d see him at a book event we both usually attended, he’d tell me that he was staying home to watch his grandson play baseball. He was very proud of that boy. So Linda would go to the festival.
Ironically, I’d just finished reading, Death in the Absence of Rain, the 15th book in the Magnolia Bluff Chronicles series, and I was going to email him to let him know how much I enjoyed the story.
The book was released July 20, 2023, so it’s obvious that he wrote it while battling the big C.
Think of how hard that must have been.
How soon can I whine about my condition without mentally cringing?
Caleb was such a good friend to so many writers, as is his wife. Their website has always been filled with announcements and special features about our books – new releases, reviews, and special spotlight promos. His Facebook page is filled with tributes from hundreds of writers.
My first introduction to his writing was many moons ago when he had essays published in the Sunday supplement of The Dallas Times Herald newspaper. I always looked forward to reading whatever he was going to write about because of his beautiful use of language, like poetry with an added dose of something special that was uniquely his.
If I were to write an obituary for Caleb I would do it in the style that was his trademark:
Caleb Pirtle III.
Gone too soon.
A good man.
A kind man.
A generous man.
A talented man.
A loving husband.
A loving father.
A loving grandfather.
A good friend to many.
He will be missed.