Archive | August, 2017

Remembering Martha…

25 Aug

When I met Martha in 2003 she was already well into her 70s. A dynamo of a little woman who could see no reason to retire long after she actually had, I met her when I was trying to find a location for an auction my science fiction club had planned. Just 3 weeks before the event, our venue had canceled & I was desperate to find another location. As a non-profit, our club was hoping to find an alternative venue that would charge us little or possibly nothing for a new location so I had called the county offices hoping for the best. Martha answered the phone. It was one of her days volunteering with the county.

Immediately Martha took up the challenge & attempted to find a venue for our auction; not because she felt particularly sorry about our circumstances but because she was drawn to the number of charities we supported with the proceeds.

After speaking with the county (Martha) to no avail, I moved on, checking local venues, hoping for the best as time became shorter until our event. But Martha, who never gave up in the face of a challenge, soldiered on, searching for some way to help me. Several days later she returned my call telling me she’d found a venue for the auction.

And so, in 2003 we held our Charity Auction in the large meeting room at a building owned by a local realtor. Martha saved the day … & the auction. The evening of the auction she showed up to see just what kind of an event we were having.

And the rest, as they say, is history. She not only showed up, she joined our club. Years later she would continue to say, “I don’t know diddly about Star Trek & science fiction but I like what you do in the community.” As she learned more about our club & became familiar with our personalities, she would add, “…and I just enjoy your entertaining members.”

And we enjoyed Martha.

After her first year with us, Martha’s husband, several years her senior, started coming to our meetings with her & after a while, he joined us, too. In some strange way, I believe we, our club members, were entertainment for them or maybe we reminded them of their youth or they simply enjoyed our determination to make a positive difference in our community. Whatever – we shared a unique relationship from which came nothing BUT positives.

They participated. They raised funds. They worked rings around some of our younger members & they worked their way into our hearts. They became “family.”

I remember so much about Martha & Millard. I remember his wit & the stories he shared & his jokes on Talent Night. I remember how much he enjoyed Ice Cream Sundae Night every June & the costumes they both wore at Halloween parties.

I remember Martha slipping me $15 frequently to pay the fee for using the Meeting Room at the local library for our monthly meetings & her calls to me with her concern when Millard, at age 90 continued to climb a ladder to clean out the gutters on their house. She stayed on the phone with us one Sunday afternoon when Millard didn’t come home from a hospital visit when she expected him to. As a retired minister he made frequent visits at the hospital on Sundays after church & was always home at the expected time. That particular Sunday when she began to worry, she called us & we talked to her until she felt better. When she became worried again she called us back. Finally, arriving back home close to 7 in the evening, Martha called to tell us he had “made an appearance.” She apologized for bothering us, and then added, “He is 90, you know.” She was 85 at the time.

On an occasion when our club needed plastic bags for a project, Millard said Martha had plenty & to come on over & get some. When we got there they led us to a closet filled almost to the top with plastic grocery bags & Millard laughingly explained that he was sure she had the first one she’d gotten right after they began using them in grocery stores.  She insisted she wasn’t a hoarder … just a keeper of things that someone might need later on.

I went with Martha to visit 2 doctors when she had an obvious medical problem. Each suggested she have further care but she refused. She said she’d been living with the condition for years & wasn’t going to have anything done at that late date. And she didn’t. She only wanted to stop the immediate part of it that was bothering her, so that’s what she did. There was never a more stubborn woman & I loved that about her, even while worrying that she wasn’t getting the attention she needed. In the end she was right. That wasn’t the condition that took her out of this life. She was wise beyond her years … no matter how many of those there were.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Martha was the first one of our friends I told. In my confusion & fear I so missed my mother who had died several years earlier. There was comfort in being able to tell Martha & have her hug me, much like my own mother would have done & tell me it was going to be alright.

Millard died at 90+ years old & Martha never was quite the same. She said how difficult it was not to have someone with her that had been for more than 60 years of her life. They were a team & a team divided never worked as well as it did when it was whole.

Martha died today … one day following her 91st. birthday. She had begun a steady decline in the 2 weeks beforehand. The members of our club will miss her, each for their own reasons.  I will miss her for mine.

If I close my eyes I can hear her laughter & see her smile. I can see her sitting across the table from me at our meetings. I remember her in her wheelchair on July 4th. this summer at a club party at the lake, hoping she wouldn’t accidentally roll into the lake in a run-away wheelchair. I have saved the notes she wrote to me between meetings.

Martha was a dynamo. She knew how to get things done & she did them. She was determined & stubborn & full of life until losing Millard. I hope they are together again sharing whatever it was that brought them such joy for over 60 years. I hope she is at peace.

If there is a heaven I’m guessing Martha is there organizing stuff for God & making sure Millard isn’t climbing on ladders & cleaning out heaven’s gutters.

Martha & Millard … together & individually inspired us. They taught us that age is just a number while inside they were both still 30 or 40 or whatever age they remained in their minds & hearts.

They weren’t just our family, they were a PART of us & we were truly blessed to have had them in our lives. Just like in Galaxy Quest, they inspired us to never give up …

 

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