I was told before we left on vacation that my grandmother Pat was having minor heart surgery. My mom suggested I call or send her a card, but in the hustle and bustle of getting ready to leave, I simply didn't do it. On day 4 of our vacation I had a voicemail from my mom when I went to ride Thunder Mountain by myself. There were complications with the surgery, please call. I didn't feel like I could call from the park, so I immediately sent a message to my cousin Lindsey and details started coming in. Blood clots, strokes, unknown damage....
I found out later that she woke up after surgery. She joked she was ready to go home, she was in good spirits and sent her kids home to rest. The surgery was a success and she was excited to have the heart of a 20 year old.
The next morning on our drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to Legoland more details arrived, another surgery, removing part of her skull... she will never walk or talk again. My heart sank. How could this be happening? How could a minor heart surgery that was suppose to improve her quality of life turn into this?? I quietly sobbed in the passenger seat while Roger held my hand and Milla yelled at me to pay attention to her story and entertain her. For me the vacation was over. Do I come home? Do I stay? Will I regret it either way? Will I ever remember this vacation without all these details flooding my head? Uncle Jerry and my mom said stay, so I did.
I dried my tears as we arrived at Legoland and got ready for our day... all I could do was enjoy my family, it was what she would want. I was so lucky to have a friend from home there that day. As fate would have it the Kropholler's were there and I was able to lean on Jen, to let it all out and have someone checking on me the rest of the trip. I will forever be grateful!
More details came in... left side of her brain dead, 6 weeks of ICU, lots and lots of rehab... I locked myself in the bathroom and researched all the things our left side of the brain controls on my iphone... not much quality of life would be left. I could not imagine her going down this road... My grandfather had a stroke and lived for 14 months afterward. He was an amazing man, one of my best friends, but for those 14 months he was a shell of himself. He was miserable and my grandmother worked so hard to keep him going.
More details... potentially brain dead.
I put on my big girl panties and vowed to enjoy the rest of our vacation... and I did. I was able to live in the moment most of the time, but every once in a while the tears would creep up. Grandma Pat and I spent many summers at AstroWorld begging them to turn off rides because I was going to be sick :). The entire way to AstroWorld my grandpa would say that he was dropping me off at a childcare place because I was too chicken to ride anything, he was teasing, but his teasing probably got me to ride somethings I normally wouldn't have. I probably rode my first kiddie roller coaster with her and our trips there each summer were one of the highlights of my year, so the rides at Disneyland flooded me with memories.
Our last night at Disneyland we were watching the fireworks. It was crowded and we were exhausted, they started playing "Baby Mine" from Dumbo and I lost it. I sobbed through the rest of the fireworks.
Baby mine, don't you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Rest your head close to my heart
Never to part, baby of mine
It had been placed in this moment just for me, it was as if she was singing to me. Never to part, close to my heart, baby of mine.
We traveled home on Saturday and I knew I needed to get through one more commitment to Milla before I could really give in to the grief. Fresh Beat Band concert! We had so much fun and I'm so glad we went! As soon as we left I knew I needed to go to Houston and quickly.
Monday morning I dropped Milla off at school and drove to Houston. My parents drove up that day as well, it was the day where the doctor would report how she was doing and a decision would be made. I held her perfectly manicured hand, comforted and was comforted by my mom and her brothers and sisters. I cried, told her I loved her and waited for the meeting. The meeting was short and her funeral preparations began immediately after. I cried some more and went in to say goodbye. It was so hard... when I kissed her cheek her face moved. How was that possible? She was brain dead? Nurse explained it as a reflex.
I got in my car and started my drive home... 5 hours in the rain at night. I arrived home at 2 am and woke up the next morning to give Milla the normalcy of going to ballet. On Tuesday, she was taken off the respirator and passed away.
Milla's life stayed pretty normal through all of this. I tried several times to explain my trips to Houston or what had happened to my grandma, but I didn't want to scare her and she didn't have any questions, so I kept it simple.
She was an incredible grandmother. There is hardly a childhood memory that doesn't include her and my grandfather. I went to "Camp Grandpa" every summer... she would make me silver dollar pancakes every morning, stock the pantry with my favorite junk food, keep fudge bars in the outside garage for grandpa to give me, allowed me the freedom to test boundaries (getting lost on the greenbelt one day included), and let me be a brooding preteen when needed. We played 100s of games of chinese checkers and yahtzee, canoed, she bought me my first pair of cowboy boots, introduced me to Patsy Cline and scary movies when I was WAY too young, taught me how to do the chicken dance, and had the best laugh ever.
She wasn't perfect, none of us are, but she was special and she will be dearly missed.
If you read this, call the person in your family you always put off to call. We always thought Pat would outlive us all, and who knows with her new valve in her heart, she might have. But you never know what is around the corner, so try as hard as you can to go to bed each night with all your relationships intact and live your life with no regrets.
Patsy Ruth Martin age 81, of Kingwood passed away May 8, 2012, after suffering a stroke. She was born February 25, 1931, in Yale, Oklahoma. Patsy was married for 42 years to the late Toby L. Martin who spent his career working for Mobil Oil Co. They lived in Corpus Christi and Victoria before moving the family to Kingwood in 1976. She loved to sing, dance and spend time with her family and was a long-time member of the Kingwood Christian Church choir. She was preceded in death by her parents, Aca and Myrtle Long; her grandparents, William and Elmira Long, who raised Patsy and her sister; and her brother, Tommy Long. Patsy is survived by her children Kitty Rodman of Portland and husband Don, Jerry Martin of Helotes and wife Kathy, Andy Martin and Melissa Martin, both of Kingwood; her sister, Leola Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida; grandchildren Rinny Nored of Austin and husband Michael, Ashlee Fort of Keller and husband Roger, Greg Martin of Corpus Christi, Lindsay Bubert and husband Steven of Chicago, Kirby Martin of Houston, Jessica Martin and Jacob Martin of Gainesville, Florida; and great-grandchildren Aaron Martin, Mason Martin, Amelia Fort and Grant Nored. Funeral services will be held 4:00 p.m., Saturday (May 12) at the Kingwood Christian Church, 3910 W. Lake Houston Parkway, Kingwood, TX. 77339.