Monday, February 11, 2008

In Re Charles R. Martin (Oct. 24, 1941 - Feb. 11, 2008)

Pardon the personal aside. Just wanted to give a brief mention to my father, who died this morning and who's in my thoughts.

Dad was a full-time pharmacist (a '63 Drake graduate) who decided that he wanted more of a challenge in his work, and so he enrolled in the evening division of Georgetown Law a month after the birth of his first child -- me -- in 1966. He somehow managed to work full-time as a pharmacist, to commute to and from our tiny little apartment in Alexandria Virginia to D.C. for law school, to study whenever he could, and in the midst of all of this to raise a family, starting with me and then my brother Brian, who was born right after the end of his IL year. My brother Chris arrived shortly before Dad graduated from Georgetown in 1970, and my sister Kelly arrived a year later. In the meantime Dad had left the pharmacy and hung out his own shingle, and my youngest brother Jonathan then arrived in 1984.

Dad practiced in his own law firm for the next 37 years, and I truly and sincerely believe that he could not have been happier in any other profession. He was a small-town lawyer with an office in the faraway suburbs of Virginia, and he loved working for and helping his clients. For 37 years his practice consistently entailed an eclectic mix of estate planning, tax, business, contract, real estate, and whatever other work happened to walk in the door. He never made much money in his practice, but he provided for his family -- and deeply, profoundly, and sincerely enjoyed his work. He was a lawyer's lawyer; someone who found immense pleasure in solving the multidue of challenges brought on behalf of those who had retained him to assist them.

Dad had a massive heart attack at a Washington Redskins game in 1987, and after a full year of (incredibly stressful) waiting, had a successful heart transplant the next year. Although Dad's health declined somewhat in his later years, his (new) heart remained strong, and he gained a profound appreciation for life and for the extra decades that had been bestowed upon him as a result of his near-death experiences after the heart attack. He viewed his additional years after the transplant as "bonus time" -- and never forgot to make the most of the time that he had left.

My parents came to visit me, as well as my youngest son, Charles -- named after my father-- in October 2007. Dad's health declined during this trip, and he had to stay in San Diego, mostly in the hospital, for a month. Upon returning to Virginia, after several weeks, he had a series of strokes and other maladies that gradually began to incapacitate him. After another month in the hospital in Virginia, and after a slow and irreversible decline in his mental faculties, he decided several weeks ago to forego dialysis, which he has needed since his last kidney ceased to function last year. He went home, and into hospice care, two weeks ago, and the family, including me, gathered by his side.

Dad died peacefully this morning at 8:00. He will be missed.