My Internet friend died this week.

I’ve been a bit hit or miss on the TMF boards in the past few weeks – impending finals, Easter, whathaveyou.  It happens.  But I logged in earlier today and discovered that TMFPMarti, aka self-named “Uncle Phil” had gone on to his great reward day before yesterday.

Despite being only a state away from each other, I never met Phil in person – though he would excuse that, as he acknowledged that the Potomac River might as well be named the Potomac Ocean.   (He seemed to be as averse to traffic as I am.)

While I can’t exactly say where I “met” Phil – it was definitely on The Motley Fool message boards – I’m just not sure which board.  Probably the Baby Boomers board, which I technically don’t belong to on a strict age range, but no one there really cared.

Where I got to know, adore and appreciate Phil was on the Taking Care of Parents board.  I was taking care of a grandparent, and going slightly nuts in the process – and Phil was there with experience, wisdom, encouragement, reassurance, and a good dose of, “Suck it up, Buttercup!  This sucks, but it’s not the end of the world, and you can and will get through it.”

He was also an election volunteer, and every November would regale us with stories of trying to keep democracy alive and well despite all random not-even-remotely-political attempts to the contrary.  (Note to self: Volunteer for the next election day.)

I knew he had some health issues, but I never realized they were life-threatening.  That was Phil.  He’d make a joke about his health, but you’d never in a million years know that it was serious.  Again, that was Phil.

For anyone that says that “Internet friends” aren’t real friends, I have to say that you are wrong.

Phil Marti was my Internet friend and now that he is gone, my world is far worse off.

If there is a heaven, Phil will get the best room with the best view, and he will spend a good amount of time getting in arguments with those in charge.

Phil, thank you for everything.  I will miss you so very much.  And I should probably retitle this as, “My friend died this week.” – “Internet” should no longer be a qualifier.

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