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 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.