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.


JUNE 15, 2012 3:29PM

A Prayer for Marty

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Before the strokes Marty had an active prayer life.  We talked about it, she talked about it, she wondered about it out loud, we talked about why she prayed, what it did for her.  She always felt that somehow prayer helped center her and helped her understand the life she experienced. 

For Marty, for me, prayer was very personal, it was a very personal way to connect with God, to connect with what we both hoped was divine inspiration, to what we both hoped was something greater in our world.

It’s why she chafed at the spectacle of public prayer, the prayer at the ball game that was more of a sermon than a prayer, a prayer at the meeting that wasn’t a personal and intimate conversation with the One who knows you the best.

I don’t suspect she had the traditional pray-er pray-ee relationship with God, Marty wasn’t a big religious traditionalist.  I wouldn’t even say she was deeply religious, she was deeply spiritual, she believed in something larger than herself and worked at trying to find the key to discovery of how that worked and how it impacted her life and the world.

Right before her first stroke stole part of her ability to think she found a book of prayers, Guerrillas of Grace, by Ted Loder.  She loved the book and read from it and quoted from it often with some of the prayers touching her soul.  

I’ve read it, focusing particularly on the dog eared prayers, the ones that touched Marty before the strokes, the ones that spoke to her life.  The prayers speak to her desire for God to bring her ever close, to soothe her anger and judgment, to help her let go of the pain of loss. 

When I read them I am touched, touched by the way my wife moved through her life, touched by her prayers then and what her prayers would be now if she had the clarity of thought she once possessed.    

I asked her other day if she still prays.  She said yes but when I asked about what I was met with silence as her brain tried to retrieve that information from pathways that are blocked by damaged brain cells.  The thought, like so many disappeared into the wind. 

I am narcissistic enough to think I know Marty’s prayers; we talked and if I were to give her a bit of a boost, a running prayer start so to speak, I think it would go something like this.  (We already know the beginning from a previous prayer event)


Dear God,

Hello, it’s been awhile.

I’m still pretty pissed about this whole stroke thing.

I don’t understand why the God I love would allow this to happen to me.  I don’t like it.  I don’t like not being able to think clearly, I don’t like not being able to say the things I want to say when I want to say them, I don’t like all of these people touching me, rolling me over, poking me and prodding me.  I hate the lack of control.

I’m thankful I survived, but I wonder, so often, I wonder why, why did I survive, why did I end up like this, why did the things I most prized in myself, my thinking, my talking, my humor,  have to go?

My God, I believe in you as a God of love, as a God of gentleness, as a God who gentles my spirit and my heart.  I don’t pray for a cure, I don’t pray to be able to walk once more, or hold my husband or comfort my children or guide my grand children.

I simply pray that you help me know that I am not too much of a burden, too much of a hardship, too much for those that I love.  Mostly I ask that you give me the strength, grace and patience to live the life I have and to accept and embrace my life as it is today.

I am thankful and blessed by my family.  It’s not often in our life we get to see how much we are loved, I have and knowing the depth of their love fills my heart.  I am forever grateful I have been around long enough to see my family live their love for me.

I am grateful I have seen more days, more blue skies, more rain, more clouds, more babies’ smiles.  I am grateful I have seen my daughter married and become a mother, my son grow into a wonderful husband and father and I have had the privilege of seeing and touching my true legacy in this physical world, my grandchildren.

I will always wish I could be more of who I was,  wish I could cradle those babies in my arms, wish I could  teach them about life and all the pain and beauty it holds.  I wish I could sing to them, I wish they could know me, know me for who I am inside, know me as I was.

God, there are days I wish I could sing my thankfulness loud enough for all to hear and there are days I want to beat my chest and cry and curse everyone and everything.

With all these things, I am here today and for those blessings and curses alike, for all of the small blessings I see every day, I give you my thanks.

And, with all that said, Amen, Goodbye and have a nice day.

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The biggest blessing for which she is the most thankful is YOU! I know she would not have left that out of this prayer. How touching and sweet. Amen.
It is often most difficult to speak with the divine, when Justice seems so absent.
Simply soulful.

What a heart wrenching prayer. This touches me on a personal level as I fear every day that my dear wife might one day be in your position. That scares the hell out of me.
Amen to Marty's prayer, so well devined.

But MH, don't you think that she prays thanks to God Almighty for you as well,...for your devotion and love and paitence?
Of COURSE she does.
I bet she wonders what she has done in her life to deserve a man like you.
Somewhere inside of her, there is wonder at how strong you are for her.

Oh yes...it is there right under the internal smiles and just out of reach for her to say to you aloud....hovering on her lips.

You have ALWAYS completed her, but since the stroke, you have filled more of her life than any person can imagine!

Yes....right next to all of the love for family and friends that spill out of her heart, there is a vast valley that is filled only by you. You are her light when she awakens, and her moon when she drifts off to sleep.

Oh yes...you fill that vast space.....ONLY you, MH.

God bless you both, and God bless the caregivers of heart and mind, and most importantly,...love.
This breaks the heart wide open. I love it.
Prayers for you both.
She is blessed to have such a good and loving partner who writes prayers for her.
If you don't have faith you have nothing.
Amen to that.
Both of you are special people and I am glad to have had this chance to meet you.
Husband, sometimes your writing leaves me wordless. This is one of those times. I know Marty thanks God for you every single day, no matter how mad she gets at Him.

I’ll keep you both in my prayers
i have entire long rambling conversations with him, and sometimes part of the conversation is doubt that he's there at all. call him names when he needs it. he doesnt care.

i like marty's prayer very much. and that sure is a silver lining - being surrounded by such love. thank you, MH.
You write good prayers, MH. You really do.

As I was reading it, I was thinking how well it works for all of us--how well it expresses our deepest, truest hopes and fears--our gratefulness for our blessings, our wish to be our better selves, our fear of being a burden or a blight on others.

Most eloquent.

Curious, though. Do you read Marty prayers from that book now? Have you read her this one?
That is some woman you have there and I guarantee she knows what a wonderful man, family surrounds her.