Skip to Content
Worthington & Caron, PC Worthington & Caron, PC
Get Empowered! 800-831-9399
Top

The Power Of Two Warriors

|

Marty Schwarting, 73, stands 6-2 and weighs 130 pounds. The mesothelioma tumor inside his chest has compressed a lung and sapped much of his physical strength, but his brilliant, alert mind and excited, dynamic way of speaking still resonate.

His wife Lois is tough, energetic, powerful, and tender, and she casts a loving glance at Marty. "We've just celebrated our twentieth anniversary. He's my best friend. He's the best friend I've ever had."

"She's always ten steps ahead," Marty says, unable to hide his affection. "I would have died from this mesothelioma a long time ago without her." Together this resilient couple has spared no effort to find the best possible treatment for his asbestos cancer, and they're both holding out hope for the best.

Active, undaunted by obstacles and complications, and full of faith, Marty and Lois continue down a path that was forced upon them.

Bending with the wind, hard as steel

Mesothelioma visits itself, always as a calamity, on more than 4,000 people in the U.S. alone. The toll it takes is so much more than lost lives. It contorts families and loved ones to the breaking point.

"Two Hearts" Wedding October 3, 1987
October 3, 1987
At the age of 53 Lois went to Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Arizona and completed a one-year, eighteen-hour credit course in medical transcription, graduating with top grades and making the president's list for academic achievement. She worked at a multi-specialty clinic for two years, before her success and decision to sign on with a nation-wide transcription service, allowing her to work as a subcontractor at home. This would end up being a blessing in their lives, giving her a detailed knowledge of medicine and of the medical system.

Lois and Marty met in mid-life while single, became friends, fell in love, and married. Their life together had extraordinary balance. An electrician who worked in home and business construction, Marty was always up early and in the winter he would make sure that Lois's car was started and warmed before she left for work. A tremendous cook and homemaker, Lois kept Marty topped off with the freshest food, made by hand, from the heart.

It ain't allergies, Doc

Lois's life was about to change forever. "One day Marty complained that he was having trouble breathing, and you know what? Marty never complains. Then one day I saw him sitting down catching his breath. Marty never sits down to catch his breath. And he was only coming back from across the street where he'd just checked the mail."

Lois finally told Marty that if he were feeling bad, he should see the doctor. That March consultation resulted in a diagnosis of allergies and perhaps an asthma condition. "It would be several months later when his life was probably saved by not having a shopping cart at Costco," Lois says. "We were standing at the register and Marty remembered he had to go back and get a 36-pack of Pepsi. It was 500 feet to the back of that store, and he walked back without a cart because Marty could certainly carry it without a cart! He had to stop twice coming back, and he was gasping and wheezing when he got back to the register with that pop!

Marty Schwarting, lifelong birder
"It all became clear to me at that moment. My Marty was sick, and we were going to find out why and get him well." Lois's eyes blaze, and her mouth sets thin and hard as if in granite.

The ensuing x-ray showed Marty's right lung completely eclipsed, floating in a mass of fluid. The pulmonologist tapped Marty on the back and it made a hollow, thumping sound. "Sounds just like a ripe watermelon, huh?" he said.

"If you say so," Lois answered.

Running the paper gauntlet

The doctor set Marty up to go to the hospital to get the fluid drained. They drained two liters, and scheduled him to come back to drain another two liters on the following day.

The battle had just begun-the battle of the forms. The first obstacle was getting authorization for a CT scan. "They learned a different vocabulary pretty quick," Lois says, "and 'can't' wasn't part of it."

"I had to really bird-dog it," Lois continues. "I had to call the CT tech at home, who fortunately I knew from church. I faxed the approval to her clinic and she got it scheduled. Otherwise, we'd still be waiting. But I have a word for things like that, when people drop into your life and help you. It's better than a good thing. It's a God thing."

With an aggressive and concerned doctor on their side, one who understood the importance of speed and the rapidity with which mesothelioma advances, he got Marty in to see a surgeon right away, and Lois and Marty felt like they were finally winning the bureaucratic battle.

The surgical pathology report confirmed malignant pleural mesothelioma, but Lois was undaunted

"I was always interested in cancer," says Lois. "When I worked at the clinic they called me the oncology queen because I always did the oncology transcriptions for the doctors. I made sure they gave me the oncology tapes, so I could keep up with the patients' conditions."

While in the hospital for thoracoscopic biopsy and partial pleurodesis, the Schwartings met with oncologist Dr. Jack Cavalcant of Desert Oncology in Mesa, Arizona. He currently has a mesothelioma patient who has survived for three years since diagnosis. (She still lives! )

Lois talked to Dr. Cavalcant at their consultation and said, "Surely you see how thin Marty is," wondering if Marty would be able to withstand the chemotherapy.

Lois and Marty at home in Gilbert, AZ, October, 2007

Dr. Cavalcant was a good judge of men. "He has a strong, powerful body for his size, and a tough, tough spirit. He'll get through it just fine."

After draining more fluid and discharging Marty to home on March 9, they scheduled their first chemotherapy treatment for March 22.

"As soon as he was diagnosed I started Googling," says Lois. "I saw that after diagnosis people typically live 4 to 12 months. I kept searching, and found Ron Simkins's story, and read it. I called Janet, his wife, to see if she would talk. Janet answered the phone. I told her that I'd just found out that Marty had mesothelioma and that I was calling her because of her husband's story on the Internet. We talked for a long, long time. She referred me right away to ACOR and to MARF."

Hard landing

Lois reflects on the importance of the Internet. "There's a lot of information out there on mesothelioma, lots of it good and useful. Even if you don't have a background in medicine, you can sift through the material and come up with information you need to help make some of these tough decisions."

Lois's pragmatism is checked for a moment as she runs it all through her mind again, at light speed, for the millionth time today. Then she's back.

After chemo Marty would sleep but only doze, mostly in the recliner. His only movement was walking to the restroom, dinner table, or back to the bedroom. Some days he couldn't so much as cross the street to get the mail.

Marty reflects on his situation, and breaks in, his clear, articulate speech grasping the various threads of cancer, of chemo, of his relationship, of his changed state. "Chemo knocks everything out of you. I'm not capable of doing the things I used to do but don't want to give up doing them. It's hard. I took care of everything."

Lois follows his train of thought. "He resents anyone doing his work. Marty used to do everything, fix everything."

"That's what makes you so distraught," Marty agrees. "I get forced out by lack of stamina and strength."

One of Marty's 36 rose bushes, October, 2007
Then the radiologist's office calls to set up an appointment, calling Lois to her battle station. She rattles off ½ dozen medications, his exact weight, contraindications, and quizzes the caller about various items. She calendars the appointment, confirms the pick up time for the contrast, finds out when to ingest it and whether he should eat before the appointment, then reconfirms everything. Twice. "It helps when you speak their language," she says with a smile.

Brave new world

"I'm interacting with doctors and their staff all the time. I call them if they're not responsive, change them if they're not putting us first or doing everything they can. One of our friends we met through ACOR told me about Dr. Vogelzang in Las Vegas. He's a fine man and a brilliant doctor. He returned 24 e-mails on a Sunday-24! Marty wasn't a candidate for surgery because the cancer had already invaded his chest wall, but we felt it was really worthwhile doing a consultation with Dr. Vogelzang."

After seven cycles of chemotherapy over twenty-one weeks, Marty has been through a lot. "Days 3-10 after the chemo I'm a basket case. My fifth and sixth chemos were the ones that zapped me the worst. No energy, in a daze, in a fog. I'd tell anybody facing this cancer to be prepared for the down cycle. Because it's coming. You start feeling good, then you get beat down again. It's cumulative after a while."

Food is crucial, Lois adds. Simple, delicious, fresh, and homemade food is another part of this complex anti-cancer equation, arming the body with nutrients, vitamins, and calories so that it can tolerate the chemo and fight back against the tumor. "I keep a freezer full of easy, quick foods that I've prepared so he can have good food on demand! Chemo kills his appetite, so when he's ready to eat there's got to be something right then, right there."

Lois adds, "It's simple, but you can make a difference in cancer treatment by focusing on healthy food. You'll tolerate the treatment better, feel better, and have a stronger body with which to fight the cancer."

Keeping the future alive and bright

Shortly after his diagnosis, Lois and Marty, undaunted, followed through on their long awaited 14-day cruise/tour to Alaska. It was Marty's dream.

Still in love! October, 2007
The next trip will be to Ft. Lauderdale and Hollywood, Florida, to visit two of Marty's high-school buddies from Long Island. "We keep planning. You have to have something to shoot for."

"When people get diagnosed with mesothelioma, they are overwhelmed," says Lois. "But they don't have to be. The Internet, and mesothelioma support groups out there can provide information and resources. Ask questions, be confident, trust your judgment. If you like a doctor, work with him. If you don't, switch. The hardest thing about mesothelioma is that it tries to tell you that you're not in control of your destiny. But you are. You just have to wrench it back."

Lois is preparing to run by her daughter's house and drop off some things. Since it will be rush hour in Phoenix on the way home, she and Marty will enjoy a round-about detour, traveling through the desert and along a canyon route they've not driven since before meso. "We'll soldier on," Lois says. "We'll take it one day at a time, and enjoy each day, each hour, each minute that we're together."

Marty smiles and squeezes her hand. Their eyes meet, and you know they'll never give up.

*** OCTOBER 23, 2007 ***

Mesothelioma or not, Hollywood, Here We Come! An Update from Marty and Lois. (12/17/07)

The Internet was useful in locating Marty's former classmates and buddies. Lois researched and located them a couple of years ago. They had often talked about going to visit each other someday. Marty's mesothelioma made this a "better hurry up and do it" idea.

Bob Ritcey and Marty talked almost weekly over the past two years. Bob wanted to "go out to see Marty" but his wife Ruth didn't see how because Bob has diabetes, and for her it's a major struggle just to get him out of the condo and down to the beach! As an incentive to fight the mesothelioma and also the chemotherapy, Lois contacted Ruth to arrange a time they would be available, and to see if accommodations could be gotten nearby their residence.

A plan was being made, and Lois, the world's greatest planner, was going to execute it, too. Whenever Bob called Marty, he advised "...practice staying awake because we are not going down there to watch you sleep." Marty and Lois packed their bags and instead of "moving to Beverly" they traveled to Hollywood, Florida.

They reserved a beach house within a 5-minute walk from the Ritcey's condo. Barbara and Lois kept the emails flying back and forth, writing daily. They formed a wonderful friendship over the past two years.

Marty and Dick
Marty had always hoped to one day travel to Reno, Nevada, see Dick and hear about his thirty-year career in the Air Force. Marty is an aviation fanatic, and loves everything that flies, from planes to birds. After enticing Barbara and Dick to make the trip, Lois called Barb and told her, "If you decide to go with us, you could get on a US Air flight direct to Phoenix, and have a one-hour layover on a direct flight to Ft Lauderdale, and that direct flight is the same one we will be on...and we can get a head start on our visiting!"

That's all Barb needed to hear. She and Dick decided to go. However, they left a few days earlier, visiting family in Florida, some of whom they had not seen since the 1960's. They met Marty and Lois at the Ft Lauderdale airport and picked them up in a rental car. Marty and Lois were to be guests of the Purcells in their time-share. So, the trip was planned, with huge hopes and prayers that Marty's mesothelioma would not interfere with this wonderful reunion.

A chest x-ray and a CT scan were done and there was reason to be slightly concerned that the trip might not happen. Overnight oximetry monitoring was done. Marty's oncologist, Dr. Cavalcant, smiled at Marty on his last office visit and told him to "have a good trip." Marty was as happy as could be.

Marty traveled well. He had not realized that in addition to seeing his two buddies he would see another classmate--Dick's wife Barbara was also in Marty's high school graduating class. They all got together every day. Bob and Ruth hosted them for a lunch one day and dinner another evening. An added bonus happened when Lois located the elementary school and church she attended when last "snowbirding" in Hollywood at the age of eleven. Her mother had multiple sclerosis and their home was in upstate New York, so the family would go to Florida for the winter months.

Marty and classmates
Although Dick has Parkinson's, he still enjoys getting out and doing things but also is sensible about how much he pushes himself. Dick, Barbara, Lois, and Marty spent an afternoon at Butterfly World in Ft. Lauderdale. They rented a wheelchair so that Dick could sit in it and be wheeled when he needed rest, and Marty could get behind it and push if he felt the need for a "walker" type apparatus or even get in it if he felt tired. When Dick felt like he was "disintegrating" from being in the wheelchair too long, he'd get out and walk! One time Marty decided to push Dick in the wheelchair just to test his endurance. Dick was the chauffeur for the trip and the poor guy had two "backseat drivers." What patience. Marty told Lois he would have pulled over and told both of them to get out if he'd been driving a car! That evening they had dinner at a local restaurant, just the four of them, then back to the time-share to pack for their flight home late the next afternoon.


Before Dick, Barbara, Marty, and Lois left on the same flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Phoenix, (with the Purcells continuing on to Reno), all three couples had lunch together at a restaurant that provides rocking chairs on the "front porch" to rest awhile or even to buy to take home. They all sat and enjoyed the chance to sit, relax, and talk about hopes of getting together again one day. Marty did not buy a rocking chair there, nor will he buy one at the local chain restaurant back in Arizona. He's back instead to sitting and driving his riding mower, cutting the grass on the one-acre yard that he and Lois live on. Marty has told Lois that he wants to wait until spring, possibly February, before he travels again because in December his daughter and grandson plan to take a break from their working cattle ranch in New Mexico and come to visit.

From 2,000 Feet Altitude to 5200 Feet For One Week (5/19/08)

We took the advice of many and trusted gut feelings, too and spent nite at Albuquerque. We took our pooch along on this trip --- don't know if she'll ever sign up for another "vacation" with us or not! Convinced Marty since I packed the car and knew where evtg was and which bags to take in, that he should sit in room with our "little darlin" while I hauled bags into motel.

So, he got to sit in there and listen to her demanding yap while I dared leave her sight, and I got the required items out of car. The alt at Albuq is abt 5,000 feet I believe. I'd requested ground floor so Marty did not have to climb stairs either. Suffered no side effects to being at that alt and no need for exertion which was my plan, of course. I zipped through Santa Fe w/o being tempted to stop and shop bcz the freeway goes right through! So, we weren't there long enough at that highest alt for him to exp breathing probs. Stayed within speed limits so as to not get a ticket, though! We arrived at Nunn CO about 5:30 pm and it was cold and windy. Got out just our overnite bags and the pooch's dog food, cookies, chewies, etc.... and dishes.

Next a.m. I woke up before Marty and hauled in most of the rest of the luggage. We were fortunate to have had a camper set up for us to have for use - with heating/AC (and we did not need the AC, believe me!), a little TV and a coffee pot. A very comfortable bed. The first and second days we left the pooch at home and Marty's daughter, Marty and I traveled around the area, with Laura telling us abt various places and taking us to various "homes" they'd lived in. Marty's oxygen level is usually around 94 or 95% here at home. Up there at the higher alt it had dropped down to 90%. Told him he'd better start doing some deeper breathing and try getting more oxy into the lungs or we'd have to shorten the trip and come back home. His oxy improved slightly, but just up to 92%. He did not experience any lightheadedness or shortness of breath. Did feel like it was a little labored though.

On Wednesday a gentleman whom I'd contacted thru the County's Audibon Society arrived shortly before 7:30 a.m. to take us birding. We went out all a.m., a "comfort station stop" in between and then later stopped for lunch. Gary asked us when we needed to be back home: Told him to keep us out as long as he could or take us back when he had enough of us or needed to get back home! He dropped us off at "home" 5:15 pm and had a marvelous time and Marty saw a lot of birds.... We got to see Eagles in their nests with chicks, among others. I mentioned to Gary that I'd like to take a trip up to Cheyenne as I "fell in love with it after traveling from NY state on my way to Utah when I was 20 years old on a Grayhound --- moving out to room with a "best friend" - we'd been like sisters in NY but she joined Mormon church and had moved to Utah! Anyhow, after traveling through and into little towns of Nebraska dropping off newspapers from bigger places, when we were on the higher plains and I saw a city with lights I fell in love and knew I wanted to go back and see that place! Well, that was before or about the time some of you were a twinkle in your dad's eye! Was indeed 48 years ago! Anyhow, asked Gary if there were any special birding spots up there, and he said DEFINITELY --- so, I got my Wyoming map out and asked him to show me how to find....

Next day Marty and I were off to Cheyenne, Wyoming and found a MARVELOUS birding spot..... Actually, with our new car which is a hybrid Prius (Toyota ought to pay me for this reference!!!!) we were more able to "sneak up" on the birds and get into closer view than had we been walking to sight them..... Going as slow as we were, the vehicle was operating on the battery motor and so no engine noise to scare the birds. We had such good luck seeing so many birds we decided to go back there again the next day! Oh, also we took Ange (the cocker with us) that day.... On our first day out with Marty's dtr Ange did fine... but our second day out she found a real wet spot in ground under the gate and decided to tunnel under....That blonde dog was a matt of mud when we got home... hurriedly, bcz the son-in-law called to ask if we had her with us as she not there! He went out to our trailer and saw her sitting by steps, a blanket of mud.... Anyhow, we hurried home and I had to rinse her off in cold water as best could then took her inside to put in laundry tub to give a warm-up shampoo job! Whatta mess! My first exp with that!

Anyhow, Marty and I just took her with us when we went to Cheyenne. The day we were out with Gary we treated her like a dog and put made her fencing into a cage in the garage and put high chain link fencing arnd that --- she's never been a jumper over the fence, but she'd never dug out of yard either....SO BE BTR SAFE THAN SORRY! Better angry and whatever than to be a coyote's meal! Often a coyote will go up to raid Laura's garden when planted, or go to her fountain in front yard for drink.... Our temps up there were pretty cool --- 45 and up to abt 53 in the mornings. Up into the 70s later in day --- not counting chill factor with constant winds there! But, we enjoyed it.... I was so afraid the dog would get a cold.... but I'm the only one who came back with one! I'm one of those who subscribe to old wive's tale abt be in cold and wind and maybe catch cold.... nite times or early a.m. when Angel need out I be with her so no coyote get her.... HOPEFULLY!

And so Marty, Angel and I all had a good time and Marty did well in the high alt. So, guess that is prob more than you wanted to read, and if so, hope you stopped where you wanted! Missed being in touch and finding out how EVBO doing! FYI --- I used to be one of those who would only BUY AMERICAN. We averaged 48.6 mpg on our way "up" and I actually did drive 75 mph where lawful speed allowed. Coming back a lot of downhill and traveled 65 mph most of time even when ok for 75 --- we got 55.8 mpg on that portion of trip! We have a Toyota Prius --- not even made in America for Toyota but in Japan and transported here... Gas drove us to it! I stil hate not buying AMERICAN, and I hate the throw-away society we have become and spend so much money on Chinese "stuff" and from other places too...! Off that band wagon! Hugs to all!

An Update -- April 28, 2009

I took Marty off the liquid morphine at night and give him the very low dose 0.125 liquid Lorazepam and 1 Tylenol pm, especially since he was not needing morphine for pain but had been prescribed by the hospice nurse in order to "help his breathing" !

Anyhow, today Marty is complaining of 'discomfort' in breast area but did not want to take Percocet until it "worsened.” I convinced him we need to stay out ahead of any pain and not let it get a foothold on him. Even though I put Megace and his farvorite foods his appetite decreased significantly – he eats only because he knows he "has to" eat.

Yesterday he started using the 4-wheel walker to go about 20 or 25 feet for "potty calls". We have never been the type to eat in front of the TV however he has been eating lunch, snacks and dinner in his recliner. This a.m. he not have any energy to walk about 15 feet to the table to eat. He has trouble sleeping because of his anxiety about waking up "gasping and not able to breathe".

Marty can still makes it about 25 or 30 feet to the coffee maker sometimes! After I got up this morning he was on his way back from the microwave with a "warmed" cup of coffee and his carafe with a few more drops left in it.

My first line of valuable information continues to be our beloved Mary of the Mesothealiom Applied Research Foundation. Oh Mary, how very much I have appreciated your input all through this journey. Thank you so much for being here! Luv ya!

Bye guys...I know that many of you pray for us as we do for you...! Luv u meso family! Marty's mermaid

Our last precious moment together. (6/17/2009)

Lying in his hospital bed at home, in our family room which had been "his room" since February 3, following surgery for broken hip and one week in Hospice Unit, Marty passed away yesterday at 10 a.m., June 16th. It was a sweet sorrowful moment which I'd like to share with you. While in the Hospice Unit in February, a harpist and woman with a beautiful voice came into Marty's room and she sang a song, "You Are Mine" and when she did, she inserted Marty's name at times but also mine. Such a beautiful voice - she's also a music teacher who teaches voice as well as music. When she sang that song, she would insert Marty's name and at another point my name, as she sang that song which we'd never heard before. It brought tears to Marty's and my eyes as she sang - such beautiful words, such a beautiful voice singing and the beautiful harp music she played as she sang. While in the Hospice Unit, I purchased a few of her CD's.

Yesterday morning. I'd been playing one over and over just for background, and my daughter was tired of same one over and over. So… I just reached for and put another of Karen Gunderson's CD's in the DVD player just for some soothing music ---- associating harp music with heaven, and knowing Marty's last trip was Heaven bound.

The Hospice nurse had arrived at 4:50 and left at 7:50 with Marty's pain and restlessness under control. They not do "the 11th hour" unless case of seemingly uncontrolled pain or agitation. The nurse told me she was CERTAIN it would be that morning and just prayed it would not be 5 minutes after she left us. It would actually be 2 hours and 10 minutes from that time.

A couple who've been my friends (John & Terry) since 1982 got to know Marty and were here and another dear friend of ours (Geri) since 1992 along with my daughter Amy and Mark, one of Marty's sons, were here with Marty and me.

There were many moments I was able to hug and kiss him and tell him things I wanted to say over and over. Also, remembering on the MARF site, following another warrior's surgery, and saying "Go Granny Go" - hoping for a wonderful recovery following surgery for meso ---- yesterday, a couple of times I would say "Go Marty, Go" --- not wanting him to linger any longer in his body which had been so ravaged by mesothelioma. However, Marty is not the "blow and go" type person that I so often am. He evaluates and does things more slowly and meticulously. He's not even the type of person who would rush onto a bus to get the best seat --- and so, Marty left at the time appropriate for him.... And would also be for me!

I've often told everybody that he is SO SMART AND WISE. Anyhow, I had a time when I walked in the pasture with Angel and at that time I think is when Marty's son Mark was left alone with his dad to just sit with him and say things he'd like to say. The others had their moments also. When I would be standing by Marty, with my arm about him, whispering into his "good ear - the one that is not deaf" I noticed his breathing was getting a little slower and so decided to open his shirt so I could watch his chest raise with each breath. At one point asked everybody to come over by him and we pray for him. I began the praying aloud, and those of us comfortable with praying for Marty did so --- I continued to watch his left lung breathing and as I heard his last breath sound and saw his left chest would not rise with another breath, I was aware that the song being sung at that moment on the CD was You Are Mine --- the very song we cried to in the Hospice Unit and sung by the same angelic, beautiful voice with the Harp music. Yes - Marty belongs to Jesus and is in heaven now.

I waited until the Hospice Nurse arrived and after she was through checking Marty and doing the necessary things I asked her to help me turn Marty so I could see the "cute little butt" that I'd diligently cared for and worried about for the past 27 months, and it DID NOT HAVE A BEDSORE ON IT... And Marty had been bedridden for 2 weeks.

I even used the oxygen mask under that sweet butt on Sunday when I saw beginning of possible breakdown and pressure sore! I am so grateful to our God that although I could do nothing about the meso, he helped me to gain control of Marty's comfort and prevent him from getting a pressure sore - which I feared would cause him pain and extreme discomfort.

By the way, when one of the nurses had asked, do you take the oxygen off of his face and place the cannula on his bottom, I laughed! Told her NOT HARDLY - he needs it for breathing!

Then told her I have a tube with a mask on it and grab one of the small portable tanks or the large standby one, and I cup the mask against Marty's butt and turn that tank on HIGH and let the ox flow for a full 15 minutes! I follow that up with callendula succus.

Three of my granddaughters had a slumber party here with my adult daughter last nite --- I went to bed EARLY as I'd had little sleep the prior 2 nites. I woke up today with a little bit of a sore throat, missing Marty but thankful I did not have to worry about him catching this sore throat from me. I went outside this morning and picked 6 beautiful yellow roses to bring into the house, thanking Marty for the roses this a.m. My wedding bouquet was yellow roses and white carnations - choosing yellow roses which signify friendship.

We took the bouquet with us on our honeymoon and the next day one rose bud had opened into full bloom, just like our love and friendship did. October 3rd will be the 22nd anniversary of our marriage, but we celebrated 30 years of friendship while he was on this earth - a friendship that continued to grow and bloom and a wonderful love to go with it.

And so, my very best friend and the person who nourished me the most of anyone in my 69 years of life is now in Heaven with the Jesus and the Father, and Marty's memory will live in my heart forever. I thank all of you for being here with us during this journey and for your love and prayers and hugs - it would have been so much more difficult without you. I have learned much, and at times when it would have been easy for me to stay "down in the dumps" I did not want to drag you there so I would purposely try to throw in some humor to make you laugh as well as make me laugh while I strained my brain sometimes to try to gather humorous thoughts to explain something... Love to all.... See you in DC next week.... I B there! And I have to find something to say to Rich to see his face light up with a blush a few times!

Remembering My “Poolboy” (7/28/2009)

Last nite I had a hard time thinking of what to write for Marty’s memorial and finally got it done. Then in bed, remembered the things I had wanted to say... And not a "tear jerker" to mourn his death, but to celebrate his life - so I rewrote and will read and probably ad lib.

Standing beside me are the two who were babies in the memory video. Marty and I were on our way to Sunday evening church at Grace Community Church and he was carrying Amber in her infant seat when he asked me to marry him. I said yes! I think Marty married me because I already had two grandchildren and he didn't have any! Anyhow, you can tell by looking at Amber and Stephen that was a long time ago. They don't want to speak, so will go to sit down now and I will read and maybe ad lib.

Thank you for your prayers - times when we didn't pray ourselves, we knew yours were carrying us through. God was truly with us. Many of you have helped in different ways, all appreciated. However much or little you did for us, thank you.

I was able to take care of Marty at home until he drew his last breath, and I'd like to especially thank those who helped in the most difficult days of his care and were with Mark and me at the time of Marty's death: Amy, Geri, Terry and John Borg. Our sons David and Mark and Richard High who transferred Marty from his chair to his bed. Jake who considers it a ministry to mow my lawn for me, and Laura's husband Jeff who filled in for him when Jake was on a mission. The large bouquet of yellow roses were to contain white carnations also, as was my wedding bouquet. The florist shop made a mistake and left the carnations out. First I was upset, but then remembered..... It is not my bridal bouquet, it is a memorial bouquet for Marty, and so just yellow roses and baby's breath is OK. The single yellow rose in the bud vase because his boutonniere was a yellow rose. The smaller vases of flowers are for Geri, Terry and Amy, Laura and Richard's wife Gail to take home.

Marty and I met in an Alanon meeting where we learned how to survive while each of us hoped that our own spouses would quit drinking and our marriages were restored - but that did not happen. Instead, marriages ended in divorce --- Marty and I were friends for 8 years, and then we began dating. The friendship caught fire, becoming love and we married. Marty was my soulmate. He and I were best friends and lovers. He taught me to appreciate nature, how to look at coloring and characteristics of birds. We were a team, he would hear a bird and know what it was but with one deaf ear could not pick out its location. I could and did.

He taught me to look at its eyes, it's legs, coloring of feathers. I became an amateur birdwatcher. He taught me to enjoy nature. Marty taught me to search stars and look for the big and little dippers. He taught me to find Mercury. When he was diagnosed with cancer he taught me how to do a few things around our home so I would be able to take care of some of the many things he did. I even learned from him to be more neat and more mellow. I don't think my kids will agree with the mellow bit! He loved my children and grandchildren as well as his own.

He taught me to diaper his Rachel & Emily when I went out to help him babysit them - I'd never used disposable diapers --- he had been babysitting them for some time and knew how. I used to buy identical clothes for them since they're identical twins. First time I was helping him babysit and couldn't fig out which girl was who, I didn't buy any more identical clothes! I told Marty when he dies I might change my name to Marty because I like him so much. If you're out with me and we're waiting for a seat, I don't have a memory problem when you hear me give my name as "MARTY".... I just do.

Many people don't know how to spell Lois and if I spell it for them, other's don't know how to read and pronounce it! I liked, loved and respected Marty. So, I often go by the name of "Marty".... It was an honor and a privilege to be his wife.

Toward the end of his life, Marty was very tired and needed rest but he allowed visitors because he knew some people really wanted to come and that I am energized by company while he was energized by alone time. He finally got so tired that toward the very end when I'd tell him how much I love him and would miss him, he had strength only to say "LIKEWISE"... And so now "likewise" is a very special word. He loved and nurtured me more than anyone in my entire life. I was raised in an alcoholic home and went to live with relatives when I was 14. I married an alcoholic and suffered many years of emotional and verbal abuse. Fortunately I was smart enough to never put up with physical abuse and did not. We were blessed to have 22 years of friendship and love and be soul mates. We had a wonderful marriage, but God has something better for Marty --- he is now in Heaven. I'll see him again one day, but for now I'm to stay here --- and I will make it because I AM A SURVIVOR.

I asked Marty to save me a seat alongside him. In Alanon meetings we seldom sat alongside each other, but one nite when we did and when I saw his feet alongside mine I thought "Boy, he sure has long feet." Often, after we married, and we'd be lying in bed, I'd look at our feet alongside each other and would say, "That nite I thought about how long your feet were compared to mine, I never imagined we'd see both feet together in the same bed!" and then we would laugh and hug! Anyhow, I told Marty that I don't know what Heaven will be like, but said whatever it is like to save me a seat by him and he said "definitely". Marty will live in my mind and heart always.

I'd like to thank my friend Barbara who made the memory CD you just saw. You can thank her that you're not sitting watching 2 hours of pictures of Marty - I had printed out 463 pictures I wanted you to see and she told me it'd take 2 hours --- so we edited them out to only about 6 minutes!

Now I'd like to present the bouquet vases to: Amy, Geri, Gail, Terri and Laura. The yellow rose in the bud vase is for Stephanie Bourne a young lady who is a dear friend and helped me trim my flower beds a couple times.

Then I stepped down and Ona Liles read my stepdaughter's note: Following him, my daughter got up to speak. I asked her to start off saying "My mom forgot to mention that the people who are carrying long-stemmed red roses are family members. I'd given a rose to children, in-laws, grand children, biological and blended, and also a surrogate child so they would know who family members are. Think that idea came from the Poolboy as I don't think I'd have been that classy on my own! It was a wonderful service!