My last laugh with Terry Martin…
The last time I saw Terry Martin should never have happened. Thankfully a simple errand to get a locking gas cap, wandered off to where I found myself standing in a garden, looking at the last board from the hands of a master, and listening to wind chimes.
When first hearing about Terry’s illness, it was a natural thought that he would be fine and there was nothing to worry about. He was the kindest most generous person I had ever met; it seemed the height of unfairness that he could be touched by an aggressive cancer. As time passed and it was whispered that this was a battle that Terry may not emerge victorious from. My answer to everyone’s question was, be strong, don’t cry, pray and have faith. I steeled myself with these words, readying for the moment when I would run into Terry, ready to be resolute, brave, and not tearful.
The day came and I saw Terry walking through the Dana Point Hobie shop. Smiling, he had a huge bright smile on his face. He practically danced right up to the counter and asked what happened to the blank for my longboard, why wasn’t it in his shaping room. I mumbled out a bunch of mismatched thoughts… “There was already so much foam in…. I didn’t know if you wanted… um.. I didn’t want to…” and then it happened, the tears that I told myself a million times weren’t mine to shed, filled my eyes and despite all the steel in the world, they poured out. Terry took my hands in his, smiled at me and said simply and quietly, so only we would hear “Don’t weep for Lazarus…” A phrase of such deep meaning to a person of faith, it was all he needed to say. Terry was right with the Lord; we talked and hooted with laughs about the Eternal Kingdom, any sadness slipped away. After, he clapped his hands, gave me that trademark twinkling grin and said, “Now that that is out of the way, what are we going to make..?”
The winding road to Terry’s garden…
The rumor mill had started to swirl… Terry’s recreation of the very first board that he had ever made back when he was 13, the Hot Curl, was finished and was baking in the sun in the Martin front yard. Rumors had also spread that this truly may be the last board that the Machine would shape. Fitting that the first should also be the last. Blessedly, a random series of events (a story for another day) brought me, Hobie head designer Mark Johnson, and a new locking gas cap to see the Hot Curl.
It’s funny how things work, the board should have been the first thing I noticed… but it wasn’t. There in the front yard, was the most peaceful garden I had ever been in. A set of wind chimes the size of which I didn’t know existed, played with a light meditative sound that relaxed all your cares away. As much as I tried to focus on the board, and its absolute magnificence (and it IS magnificent, perfectly shaped by the hands of a master, and sanded to a gleaming perfection that made the wood sparkle like it has gold dust in the grain) all I could keep thinking about was what a lovely calm place Terry called home.
Candy, Terry’s beloved wife, invited us inside for a chat. In true Terry style, we walked into a house booming with laughter. Chasen Marshall was at the foot of a hospital bed positioned in the living room, talking about the Hot Curl. While Mark, Chasen, and Terry talked about how the board should be glassed, and that, yes, it SHOULD be ridden at least once in 10-15 foot surf by a Laird caliber surfer. After all, boards are made to be ridden, not hung on walls. While they talked about boards, dimensions, and colors; my mind wandered. I noticed that inside, surrounded by family photos, didgeridoos, and a lifetime of memories; you could still hear the sweet comforting sound of the wind chimes. I couldn’t help thinking that what a beautiful way Terry was going to leave this world. Home, with family, surrounded by warmth, friends and the sounds from the garden.
When it came time for me to jump in with a story, I told Terry about all the great waves I was getting on the board we made. Especially the story of falling off the back of the board and watching it surf it’s way to the beach, riding better with me off it than on it. His brilliant laugh filled me up with joy. We talked a while longer, about goofing off and having fun in the water. When it came time to leave, I got a hug and a kiss on both cheeks from Terry. When Mark and I got to the door, I said loud enough for Terry to hear “Are you jealous that I got a kiss on the cheeks and you didn’t?” Mark laughed and said “yeah, a little bit.” I turned and looked over my shoulder and threw Terry a wink and smile… the last time I would see him.. he smiled a giant smile back at me and let out a laugh.
God, in his infinite wisdom, had made Terry’s illness just long enough so he could share an enduring set of lessons with all those close to him. When Terry’s Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shared his gifts, he didn’t save them to share only with others who were themselves masters, he sought out and shared with anyone and everyone who wanted to learn. If you take any lesson away from Terry’s life, make it the one of sharing openly and with out restraint with everyone who asks. Blessedly, his illness was also short enough so he was never robbed of a day with out shaping. God gave him strength enough so in his final day, he was able to get up and sign the very last board made in this realm. I like to think that in his final hours, while he was transitioning from this mortal life into his immortal one, in the quiet moments; with family holding hands and whispered prayers of love, somewhere the faint sound of wind chimes carried him aloft to his new home with the eternal Light.
May God keep you close, may he also let you out of that shaping room sometimes. I know all the Saints will be keeping you really busy with new boards. I’ll see you soon. Oh, and when I get there.. let’s talk about my next board! I’m thinking of a 9’8″ noserider, and it’s gotta be pink, really shiny… maybe we can even get a glittery pink glass job?? Anyway, have fun, say Hi to Jesus for me and save me a nice right.