When I pulled into my yard the green Subaru was parked at my back door, its rear hatch open, the back filled with stuff. Walking into the mudroom I found it alarmingly empty. The table saw was gone, the buckets of tools and plaster were no longer lined-up, the pile of lumber had vanished, the floor was swept of mud and sawdust. We ran into each other in the kitchen doorway, he with an armload of gear, me with a question. “You’re leaving?” I asked. “Yup,” he answered. “Almost all moved-out.” I pulled a long face and heaved a big sigh.
Then we both started laughing. This is our little joke. Then we hugged, and I thanked him profusely. You see, “He” is Marty, my favorite contractor. He is also family, husband to my sister Ruth. Marty had been mending plaster, putting up moldings, and tiling the backsplash in my kitchen over the last few days. He set up a small workshop in my mudroom for the duration. And created a bit of a mess each day. Last summer he did the same when he created a new upstairs bathroom for us. Marty’s been making his way through my 150 year old house, improving it 10-fold with his beautiful work. His personality and energy make the good experience even better. I tell him he’s like a masculine Mary Poppins: He finds a house in bad condition, works his magic, and when his job is done he moves on to the next home in need.
I’ve been wanting to write about Marty for a long time now. I even received his permission over a month ago. But I haven’t known where or how to start. I still don’t really. But I’m compelled to give it a try. Marty has a big story to tell. But it’s his story to tell, not mine. Marty is the world’s greatest uncle, brother-in-law, and contractor. Marty’s also a cancer survivor. Three times over. He’s also an amputee, as a result of that cancer. Doctors removed his left arm just below his shoulder when sarcoma hit him the second time. He continued his work as a contractor and builder throughout treatments. During that time he also created and built a beautiful home for my sister and himself. And when I say he did it single handed, I mean that quite literally.
Like I said, his remarkable story isn’t mine to tell. But as his massage therapist, I’m going to write about him, little by little. How could I not? To me, he’s a role model and a hero. So I’m going to give it a go over the next few weeks and months, here and there. Stay tuned.