What I Learn From Marty


Waco, Texas,
March 30
I am the chief caregiver for Marty, my wife of 30+ years. In our previous lives Marty was an Educational Psychologist, I was a call center manager. Marty has had two strokes since 2005 which have caused critical physical and cognitive deficits. We are both in our mid-50's and have two adult children. I would never confuse myself with a professional writer, I do this to document our journey and as an act of self discovery. This is what I have learned over the last years, this is our life.


Editor’s Pick
JULY 6, 2011 9:25PM

Marty's Enduring Legacy

Rate: 13 Flag

I sat in Marty’s wheelchair with her sitting in the recliner to my right.  The house was full as we listened to the cacophony of pots, pans and voices coming from the people in our house.  I could hear the cries of hunger from the two week old daughter of my daughter, I could hear the voice of the son of my son chirping, “uh-oh” as he scratched his backside like a grown man, and I could hear the daughter of our daughter of the heart cooing at our dog. 

For Independence Day Marty and I celebrated with our ever expanding family and the growing family of the Patrick’s, friends we have known for 20 years.  It was an anniversary of sorts conceived by our daughter before she had her daughter to celebrate the years we have known this family.  These are people who have been in our lives through church, school, and community for as long as we have been in Waco.

The Patrick’s are good friends who know our family, who know Marty, who knew Marty before the strokes.  These are people, friends, who Marty touched, who Marty continues to touch who know and love Marty for who she was and who she is today.  These are people with a common history, people who have been a part of all of our major life events for the last 20 years.

The Patrick’s moved to Waco about the same time we did and we had stair stepped kids, all in the same church, all in the same school system.  Their Elizabeth is one year older than our Matt who is one year older than their David who is one year older than our Erin and their Andrew who went to the prom together their senior year.  We have skied together, we went to church together, we saw our kids grow up and graduate together, and now we are watching our kids bring other kids into our joined families, together.

Over the years we have seen multiple massive crashes while snow skiing, we have played golf in the snow, we have seen Pete sitting on a rock in the wilds of New Mexico trying to get cell phone reception, we have taken turns transporting and supervising kids at conferences, we have lived through graduations, weddings and now births.  We have seen Marty and Sue jump from the top of a houseboat, smoked cigars on a balcony and seen kids swim with the dolphins.  This family is part of who we are, their children are literally our children in our hearts.

Marty and her counter-part, Sue, raised these children and influenced these kids in ways we may never see or understand.  They backed each other up as the kids went through school, broke rules and lived their lives.  The old Marty, the wise-cracking Marty, the ribald Marty, the psychologist Marty touched the lives of all of these children.  

 And now, as these children have added partners, John, Sarah, Leah, Lyle and Amanda, she will touch and teach these young adults because of their association with our kids.   And on it goes as they teach and care for their children, as they pass on what they have learned from Marty to Noah, Lila, Lily and babies to come.   Marty’s life continues through those she has loved, nurtured and taught. 

Marty had an impact on most people she met.  She certainly had an impact on our kids and the Patrick kids.  Marty had a strong personality and you couldn’t spend that much time around her and not be affected by her in some way, you couldn’t be with her and not remember things she laughed about or things she said. 

That effect will be passed on in some way to this ever expanding group.  As ours have taken partners, as theirs have taken partners, as these partners have procreated, a little piece, maybe a large piece of Marty will live on through their lives.  As they all grow and expand they will take some of the lessons, some of the laughter, some of the spiritual insight, some of the words Marty gave them and pass that on to their own.  Knowing that makes me happy.

I once worried that Noah and Lily would never really know their grandmother.  I once worried that the children of my children would not have a chance to understand how special, how funny, how raunchy, how independent Marty was.  I worried that all they would know of their grandmother is the old woman in the wheel chair. 

I don’t really worry about that anymore.  Our children and our children of the heart will take care of that, they can’t help it; she is too much a part of who they are.  Marty will be an influence in their lives and in their children’s lives forever.  Marty’s legacy is safe.

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Marty's Husband, I have no doubt that your grandchildren carry the seeds of many beautiful traits that their grandmother was blessed with, and those seeds will blossom in time carrying on her legacy, making her live through them. We all become legacies to our progeny - the important concern is that we make those legacies worthwhile. You and Marty should be proud to be passing on your examples to your offspring. Rated with love. ♥
warms my heart, all the love y'all share.
Martys Legacy is indeed safe!
And the legacy of Martys Husband is safe as well. and certainly no less important!
His legacy is not just in Waco, but within the world of Open Salon as well.
Just like Marty, the legacy and influence is wonderful and startling!

Live well, MH.
What a wonderful and place to be. Especially with the joy of the new grand baby.
"children of the heart" I grew up with a family like that. We spent all the holidays with the Westons. Now we are all scattered to the wind. But it made for a good life. Enjoy every moment. Nothing lasts forever except love.
Love endures all things, doesn't it? Of course Marty is still teaching her loved ones. A great read first thing this morning with my tea. Thanks.
What an excellent tribute to a special lady. I think they will always have part of you in them too!
This was a beautiful piece that really recognizes the power of one person in the lives of others. It was affirming and brings a smile to my face, you never know what good you have done in this world sometimes. You, as the observer can see this in spades in this case, you know the impact of your wife on so many others. Great piece.
Spirit cannot be squished, even in the face of illness. Your Marty proves that; she influences not only those who knew here when, those who know her now, but also the untold many who come to know her through your words. She is as real and as vibrant to me as anyone I've ever met face to face, and her legacy is entrenched in my soul. Thank you both for that gift!
I read this with a little knot in my stomach, not knowing whether Marty had passed or not. But now I know that, through your stunningly moving and eloquent writing as well as through the progeny of your extended family, she will be loved and remembered.
What a lovely piece to begin with this morning.
Thanks for being willing to tell this wonderful story of love.
"...children of the heart..." I love that term. If it's okay with you, I'm going to adopt it, because I have many of those. This is such a lovely piece, Husband.

Beautiful: thoughts to reassure all parents, to reassure all who have lost their parents . . .