Remembering Melissa Wolfe
By Atom Bergstrom
My dear friend Melissa Wolfe went on her Cosmic Vacation last Saturday, November 4th.
We had many adventures together since I met her in 1981.
Here’s one of many memories.
Adano Ley (Swami Nitty-Gritty), Melissa Wolfe, and I were on a Road Trip, driving back to Houston, Texas, from Carpinteria, California, traveling east on Interstate 10.
Adano was driving, I was riding shotgun, and Melissa was resting in back of the truck.
We approached the U.S. Border Patrol’s check point east of El Paso. It was very late at night.
A Border Patrol officer aimed his flashlight into the truck.
Adano’s hair was ruffled, making him look like an Oriental version of a Mexican desperado.
My hair was hippie-length and I wore a headband.
The Gayatri Mantra performed by Sant Keshavadas was blasting loudly on the truck’s cassette player.
“Is this a bathroom stop?” Melissa called out from the back.
“Pull over to the side!” the Border Patrol cop commanded.
He ordered everyone out of the truck.
We assembled at the Border Patrol office.
The officer buttonholed Adano. “Let me see your papers!”
Adano spread open that big fat wallet he carried (the one that made a huge bulge in his pocket), handing the man his Texas driver’s license.
“No!” exclaimed the officer. “I want to see your PAPERS!”
“These ARE my papers!” rejoined Adano.
“I WANT TO SEE YOUR PAPERS!” shouted the officer.
“THESE ARE MY PAPERS!” Adano shouted back just as loudly.
“NO! I WANT TO SEE YOUR PAPERS!!!” Still more decibels were added to the confrontation.
“THESE ARE MY PAPERS!” Adano was not intimidated in the least.
“WHERE WERE YOU BORN?” bellowed the officer.
“I SAID, WHERE WERE YOU BORN?”
“WHERE WERE YOU BORN?!?!?!”
They were screaming at each other.
The yelling and commotion attracted the attention of the commanding officer.
“What’s going on here?” he demanded.
“This man won’t show me his papers,” complained the junior cop.
The commanding officer looked us over.
It was obvious to him that we were not illegal aliens.
He probably pegged us for deranged New Age weirdos or latter-day hippies.
“Get the [bleep] out of here!” He dismissed us with a wave of the arm and walked away.
The junior cop lost his composure. The look on his face was priceless.
Hanging on to the his last vestige of propriety, he dismissed us.
“You can go now.”
At that time I had no idea that Adano really was an “illegal alien.”
Of course, I had known since meeting him that he was born in South America.
He had been married to Margaret Berry in Texas, but had apparently never bothered to file for U.S. citizenship.
Melissa and I created a running joke out of “Get the [bleep] out of here!”
It was good for laughs all the way to Houston, and for many months beyond.
So, Melissa, I miss you.
I wouldn’t be back in California if it weren’t for you.
I was leaving Fort Worth for my new home in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 2010 when I received a last-minute e-mail.
A doctor had diagnosed you with silicosis, and you were given about two years to live.
“I’m on the way,” I e-mailed back, and drove straight through to Ojai, California, and rented a storage unit.
It wasn’t silicosis. It was only an allergy, and you got to hang out for some extra revolutions around the Sun.
Every day above ground is a good day.
Every breath we take is sacred.