I find it sad that very often someone has to die before a eulogy or tribute is written for him/her and read at a memorial service. We really need to tell our family members and close friends how much we love and appreciate them when we are still able to do so and never let anyone or anything disrupt our commitment and love for each other. They are all God’s wonderful earthly gifts to us. Martin and I are so blessed that we have no problem in regularly expressing our love to those who are important to us and these thoughts are also reciprocated. I have often told Martin that I would like to write a eulogy to him not at the time of his death, if of course I survive him, but while we are both alive, so I am going to take this opportunity on his 80th birthday to try and describe my remarkable husband who is unique and so very special. Yes, I am bigoted concerning Martin but it is alright to be bigoted when you know you are right!
It has been so heartwarming to both of us to receive countless wonderful birthday cards, letters, tributes and Facebook greetings which have all expressed their love, appreciation and thanks to my darling husband which proves that I am not the only one to recognize how special he is because he has had such an influence and impact on countless lives. Thank you very much for all your generous comments; it has made January 12th, 2015 an encouraging day for us both. Nothing makes me happier than hearing such gracious and warm hearted comments about the one whom I love with all my heart; we have been really touched by the abundance of love shown to Martin at this present time.
Nowhere could I have found a husband so perfectly suited for me. It is so true that opposites attract; in temperament we are poles apart, but in interests and in other ways we are so alike. Martin is Mr. Diplomacy. I tell it like it is. Martin is calm and laid back. I am intense and enthusiastic; Martin is more cautious, I more spontaneous. Believe it or not, we are both good talkers. After all, how otherwise could Martin be a preacher and teacher? I have often told folk that Martin talked every Sunday as a preacher and I talked the rest of the week! By the way, although retired, he still does some itinerate preaching, officiates at funerals and the occasional wedding and has recently done two series of expository teaching at our Sunday morning adult bible study where they clapped him indicating their appreciation. In February, they have asked him to do another 4 week series. I am so pleased about this and very proud of him. Martin is an excellent conversationalist and always interesting. If a heated discussion erupts, Martin will just sit there and listen, even if he is far more capable than I; he can’t be bothered to argue, whereas I am in the middle of it all with all “fists flying!” Some years ago, our friend Frances, who knows us so well, said that I was a total extrovert and Martin an introvert. I have never considered him an introvert because he is outgoing and very much a people person and certainly not shy or withdrawn. However, I have to admit that I am the noisy, more aggressive one and Martin is the more passive, gentler and quieter spouse. He probably prefers to listen and take everything in and sometimes just lets me do the verbal work which may also be indicative of a little laziness or lack of interest. However, he is certainly no push over as I well know and will not fail to correct me if he thinks I am being too blunt or insensitive. I love him all the more for that. He too is a strong personality but happens to be more diplomatic than I.
Martin has a terrific sense of humour and is always making up jokes, which make me laugh a lot and I at least, appreciate his humour. Some do not always understand his clever remarks and I have to explain what they mean. He is also a marvellous impersonator and is able to mimic all sorts of accents. His Punjabi accent is perfect and always amuses everybody even our Sikh, Hindu and Muslim friends. I never tire of his company. It seems that he succeeds at anything he tries. Martin is a fountain of knowledge and I never cease to be amazed at his ability to recall events in the minutest detail. He is multi-talented; he is a perfect gentleman, fabulous preacher, high school teacher, counsellor, theologian, well read, adventurous, musical, self-taught mechanic, pilot and was a skillful gymnast and good tennis player. However with all of his achievements, he is very modest but I think that I have the right to boast about him because it is all true. He is my total point of reference and it is rare that he is not able to answer all my “whys and wherefores” and I often ask him where he did he amass this knowledge. I think he is like a sponge and absorbs everything. He has a phenomenal photographic memory; he can, for example, without any hesitation, reel off in what year we visited each country over the past five decades, and is able to recall where and when we purchased certain objects even to the exact place, month and year as far back as our first major purchases for our first home when we were married. I think he suffers from involuntary, information osmosis. Whenever I relate an occasion, situation or event, I can’t remember names, places, dates but just tell the story. Martin however, can recall exact statistics and intricate detail as if it just happened a day or so ago. If an occasion arises which reminds me of a joke, for example, Martin will immediately be able to tell the joke and manage to keep the punch line until the end! Martin says that I always have a simple solution for every problem – I call out, “MART, please can you help me?”
When in a conversation with someone, I sometimes go off at a tangent and then can’t for the life of me remember what I was relating previous to my diversion. As soon as Martin realizes that I am going on to another subject, he makes a mental note of my point of departure so that once I am completely lost he can immediately veer me back on course to my original subject. I find this phenomenon wonderful, hilarious and unique. So do others who are present. I doubt very much if there is another husband who comes to the rescue of his wife in such a situation. One of my mother’s most common phrases to Martin was, “Whatever would I do without you Martin?” I feel exactly the same way. The Lord certainly knew whom I needed when he gave me Martin and I only hope that I can be as great a blessing to him as he is to me. I honestly believe I had the best side of the bargain. I tell folk that there are only three things which I can do better than he; speak French, play the piano and cook, but the latter is only because I have taken on the responsibility of cooking and I know that given the chance and practice Martin would very quickly become a first class chef because he does everything by the book and is such a perfectionist whereas I am a more spontaneous cook.
It is true that we both have totally different personalities, which is a great blessing because we complement each other so well. I dread to think what would have happened had I married someone with my personality; we would have driven each other around the bend! Martin and I have the same tastes in music, history, literature, travel and adventure. We love people and have spent our lives working with people of all ages but many years exclusively with teenagers. Above all, we love the Lord and have always wanted to serve Him and others. The Lord’s ways are perfect. It has been a sheer joy to be involved in the lives of others and having the untold pleasure of seeing so many people come to know and love our Saviour. We worked hard and long in West London for fourteen years as well as both teaching in high schools and in Canada, Martin pastored a church for 14 years among wonderful Mennonite folk as well as working part time for a while in a garage and then teaching for 2 years in the MEI (Mennonite Educational Institute) where I taught French for 12 years. We wouldn’t trade those precious years for all the money in the world. Serving the Lord is not drudgery but a joy and an exciting adventure.
When we first came to Canada, we were members of a group of adult Christians who used to meet with inmates in our local Matsqui Penitentiary where Martin not only participated in these meetings, but he and the male members of this team used to spend a weekend in the prison from time to time to lead bible studies, have times of singing and worship, praying and having fun and fellowship so as to encourage the inmates who regularly attended our weekly Monday evening meeting. On such occasions the volunteer Christians used to sleep on the floor of the chapel and there was always an opportunity for any inmate to be baptized by complete immersion in a deep laundry container during such a weekend. Many of these guys turned their lives around. Martin also regularly used to go through AA and NA twelve step programmes with many inmates on an individual basis. Later, I taught in three jails and then we both had thirteen years of visiting inmates in three local jails, one in Victoria and 2 in Agassiz, an hour’s drive from our home. We are still in close contact with a number of these inmates who have successfully adjusted to living productive and successful lives in society.
After fifty six years of marriage, I can truthfully say that I love Martin more than ever. When I first fell in love with him, there indeed was an ethereal magic which is generally the experience of any couple who truly falls in love and that ‘Je ne sais quoi’ cannot be repeated in the same intensity as one’s first new love. Nevertheless the same, indelible deep love and passion never dies. I still can have warm, fuzzy, and emotional feelings toward my husband that I had as a teenager but now there is an extra ingredient – total acceptance and security. In the earlier days of our marriage, there were times when I felt insecure and needed constant reassurance of Martin’s love for me, but after a number of years I had living, practical proof that I was loved, appreciated and treasured. I now possess a total security and complete trust and this has been the happy situation ever since.
In 2003, Marilyn (nee Jenkins), a friend and fellow student with me at Dyffryn Grammar School, South Wales and I were reconnected via the website, “Friends Reunited.” I wrote to her first and then Marilyn surprised me one day by ‘phoning me. I was of course delighted to be in touch with her because we had not seen each other or heard much about each other since we left school in 1955. Marilyn went to Swansea to train to become a teacher and I went to London. Our lives went in completely different directions; Marilyn and her husband Fred also went to live in Chester, far from our native town. I think it was Martin who answered the ‘phone and after preliminary introductions Marilyn told Martin that she would so much love to meet the man who had “tamed Grace!” That same year I had the great pleasure of meeting Marilyn and Fred at the 2003 Dyffryn reunion. Martin unfortunately was unable to go with me to the UK that particular year but I hope that one day Marilyn and Martin will be able to meet each other. I think she will be surprised to find that the man who tamed me is a very gentle person.
I am so happy we did meet in 1956 and life has never been the same. We have enjoyed a very happy, varied fulfilled life and I do not have a single complaint but we can quote Psalm 23 and both independently say with confidence, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”