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It’s hard to believe that July 15th, 2018 marks one year since the world lost a dear man, Rick Martin. Rick was a very good friend and client of mine.
When I originally wrote this little note about Rick, I wasn’t exactly sure that I would share it with anyone. Having spent a lot of time with Rick during his last 7 weeks of life at the Sarcee Hospice, I think that writing this note was more of a cathartic exercise for myself. After some thought, I decided to share this note in the hopes that we can all find some value in the lessons that I learned from Rick.
Having listened to the endless lineup of people who requested to speak at his funeral, it’s clear that Rick is a man who left his mark on the world. Here are 7 of my favourite lessons that I learned from Ricky:
1. Be a Sponge – As anyone who new Rick could likely attest, he was a big “talker”. The interesting thing about Rick was, he never really spoke too much about himself, but rather, asked questions about the person whom he was talking to. Not only did he put the focus of the conversation on the person he was talking to, he also had a tendency to actually absorb and remember what that person had said. There were several testaments to his memory at his funeral; whether it be remembering birthday’s or phone numbers, or names of spouses/ children/ siblings, Rick listened, and he remembered. All too often we can be guilty of listening to someone speak while we are actually just waiting for our own turn to speak. Rick was a sponge, and genuinely listened to and took-in what the other person was saying.
2. Pump People's Tires – Perhaps Rick’s most famous catch phrase was “you da man!”. He loved to pay people compliments and make other people feel good about themselves. I saw him do this when he was working out at the gym. He’d tell people if they looked like they were getting stronger, or losing weight. If someone in the gym impressed him, he’d march right on over and tell them without hesitation. In many cases, I’m sure that those little compliments helped to make someone’s day. He also had an affinity for giving people nicknames that he had created just for them, from “Go-Go Gomez”, to “The Doc”, to “The Good Sheppard”, Rick had nicknames for people that had meaning to him, and in turn, made the person whom he nicknamed feel special.
3. Make A Stranger Feel Welcome – Rick had something that I liked to call “Newbie Radar”. Whenever there was a new member at the gym, especially a member that looked a little lost or tentative, Rick would approach them. He would introduce them to not only himself, but also, any member or trainer that happened to be close by. He had this skill of welcoming people to the gym that I have been striving to emulate.
4. Connect with Humor – I think that the first time I met Rick was in the men’s change room at the gym. He had just finished a workout and made a joke about how sore his “ass” was. I instantly knew that we would become good friends. Half of the stories told at Rick’s funeral had people laughing so hard that they were close to tears. Rick was a hard working man with a good profession, but he never missed an opportunity to share a joke or a good laugh. Even during his last days at the hospice; when he had basically lost the ability to speak, he still found a way to make people laugh. There were several moments in his final weeks were Rick had his wife and myself laughing so hard that we had tears in our eyes.
5. Fear Nobody – Rick had an aura of fearlessness about him. He had the ability to approach anybody and start a conversation. No hesitation, no lack of confidence. I think his ability to do this was fueled by the fact that Rick genuinely didn’t judge people. He approached all people in the same light and engaged accordingly.
6. Love with your Whole Heart – For the first few years that I knew Rick, we primarily engaged in “manly conversations”. We spoke about movies, sports, and other things that were a bit “PG-13”. I remember one day Rick came into the gym looking a bit flustered, so I asked him if everything was ok. He told me that he felt like a real “asshole” because he was short with his wife. He was unloading some paving stones from his car and his wife, Cahn, was urging him to stop carrying them because she was worried that he would hurt his back. In turn, a disagreement ensued. Rick told me that he felt bad, and then said, “I just love her so much”. This caught me off-guard, as it was a break from our typical line of conversations. Rick wasn’t afraid to tell anybody how much he loved his wife, or how she was his princess. Once Rick got diagnosed, his focus seemed to be chiefly concerned with his wife, and making sure she was ok. His love for his wife made him selfless, right up until the end.
7. Use your own experiences to change lives – As mentioned earlier, about half of the stories told at Rick’s funeral had people laughing so hard they were in tears. The other half of the stories shred were such moving testaments to Rick that they also had people in tears. Rick had mentored countless people through struggles with addiction and alcohol, and, in their own words, had literally “saved” their lives. I remember chatting with one of Rick’s close friends at the hospice on Rick’s final day, July 15th. His friend told me that Rick is a classic case of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. He explained: “Rick may come across as a short, humorous, East Coaster who likes to joke around, but the man has a huge heart, and has helped to change and save many people’s lives”.
Thanks for taking the time to read this note. I must admit that I miss Rick everyday, but feel very
fortunate to have learned these lessons from him.
**Oh, and in case your wondering about the muscle- bound picture below. This is a picture that Rick had made for a brain-injured teenage boy whom he had met during his time at the Foothills Hospital. Rick claimed this is what he looked like with his shirt off 😊 **