Karen Johnston and Marti

Karen Johnston and Marti pose for a picture together.

Courtesy Karen Johnston

Meet Marti, a 76-year-old Multiple Symptom Atrophy victim.

This disease mirrors stroke symptoms. Marti is a widow now, with two married sons. Her younger son and his wife take care of Marti. She lives with them.

Marti’s husband died of cancer in March. They had a good and loving marriage. I have taken on the job as caretaker on Mondays for Marti. She has become my friend in the short time that I have been taking care of her. We enjoy each other’s company.

On Monday, July 24 I arrived on the job with my lunch and Hallmark movies in hand. Marti’s daughter-in-law told me today would have been Marti’s 48th wedding anniversary.

She wanted to take everyone to lunch. Marti would like to include me. I said yes and thank you.

Marti and I went to sit on the patio and enjoy the morning sun. It was almost time to go to the restaurant. Marti’s daughter-in-law gave me an envelope with a card inside. We went into the living room where her son and daughter-in-law were seated.

I often read her cards to her. I opened the envelope and started to read the anniversary card.

It was from her late husband.

He had thought of her on their special day. He didn’t want her to feel alone and unloved so he signed it on his death bed.

He wanted to tell her he would love her forever.

Marti was so moved she cried.

We were all filled with emotion.

Later, we left the restaurant. There we were joined by her other son and his wife. We all enjoyed each other’s company. The two brothers talked of pranks they did in their youth.

We just shook our heads and laughed.

When we left the restaurant, one son and his wife hugged and kissed Marti. They all had a group hug.

When we got home Marti’s son left for work. Marti’s daughter-in-law left for a few hours.

Marti and I watched two Hallmark movies.

About four o’clock the door bell rang. I answered it. A delivery person stood there with a bouquet of pink roses and carnations. Marti looked up and started to cry.

I took the bouquet to her and read the card. There was a personal note inside from her husband.

What an emotional day for her and me too! The message made her feel loved tho not able to touch or talk to each other. Marti knew he was with her on their special day as always.

Now her family takes care of her unselfishly and lovingly. They include her in all her health decisions and daily life. Her son kids with her being silly and making her laugh. Our children bring laughter to our lives remembering their childhoods and the happy times we had as a family.

Though things are what they are, and situations have changed, it helps knowing love is unconditional and will always be there. Our families will be there for us loving and caring for us till the end, and that for us is satisfaction enough.

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