Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The man who forgot to live

Berta looks at her husband as if trying to see underneath the surface. Sometimes she can hardly recognize him as he has significantly changed over the last six years. They used to be a normal couple, being married for more than thirty years and getting ready for a quiet retirement life. Everything was planed and taken care of by him; their life was pretty much plain and simple.

Martin was a very busy business man, jumping from one accomplishment to the next one without looking back. Right before one of his objectives was achieved he started planning the next one… buying a house for them to retire, opening a saving account for the children’s university, raising a wealthy patrimony for them to inherit, etc, etc. He spent most of his time at his office or working from home. He never felt secure enough so he kept ensuring that everything was under control. But then, without warning their safe world was turned upside-down. What they had built with hard work and perseverance was suddenly been destroyed. The family was torn apart, proving that they were not secure after all.

She still remembers the day he was sentenced to five years in prison, charged with the deadly accident of one of his construction workers. The man tripped and fell from the third floor of the building her husband’s company was constructing. Despite the medical report showing the high level of alcohol on the man’s blood at the time of the fall, and the technical report showing that the company met most of the safety requirements, Martin was found guilty. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and therefore became the guinea pig of the system, in an attempt to enforce the new safety laws being implemented for the construction workers. Not even the best lawyer could save him from going to jail.

Her husband spent the first year in prison crying over his innocence; he went into a deep depression and refused to see anyone. By the second year he started to write letters to his wife and the children, but was still refusing to see them. Finally, after three years he called and asked to be visited… he was ready.

The Martin she saw didn´t resemble the man she knew; this one looked content, settled and greeted her with an affectionate smile and a cheering hug. He was full of life and quiet at the same time; he looked at her for a very long time as if trying to recover the years lost. Then he said: “I love you very much and I want to spend the rest of my days with you. I also want to apologize for all the years I have been with you without truly being with you. My love, will you marry me?

Berta could not believe what was happening, she immediately thought her husband has gone mad, so with great concern and tears flooding her eyes she said: “But Martin we are already married! Have you forgotten?

He looked at her with an intensity she has never seen before and then said: “I have not! But this time I want to do it right, I want to be with you and make each moment count. I want you to be my partner, my friend, my wife, my lover, my companion, my soul mate!

What happened to me wasn’t right, I was unfairly used by the system to prove a point, despite that I’m now thankful for the experience. I wish I could have learned the same differently, as my time in jail is a nightmare. But if that was the only way, so be it!

At the very beginning I was very angry with life and everybody else. The bitterness I felt was such that it brought the worse out of me. I kept fighting everyone, annoyed and feeling superior to all the other prisoners, until the day I was badly beaten up and almost killed. That day I realized that I needed to change, I needed to move on and re-assess my life’s priorities. What shocked me the most was the awareness that I was living as if I was never going to die and I almost died without living.

In here I have the chance to meet all types of people… the guards, the inmates and their visitors. I have experienced all the colors of love, even the not so nice ones! The things I have seen and gone through within these walls made me appreciate the life I used to have. I finally understood the popular saying “You don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it!” Only then and there I was conscious of what I was missing; I was so focused on achieving success that I forgot the most important, to enjoy while doing it. I forgot to live!”

Martin took a deep breath and then said: “My dear Berta, take your time and think about it, do not answer me now. The day I get out of here I want you there if that is what you want. I’m living my life to the fullest, and because I love you I want you to do the same.

She kept visiting him every weekend and slowly started falling in love with him again. She could have never imagined that she was capable of loving with such passion at the autumn of her life. This was the time for grooming grandchildren and having long and boring card games with her old friends, but instead she was romancing with her husband as they had never done before.

The day Martin was released from jail; she was waiting for him by the gate. He looked at her and kneeling down asked: “Will you marry me?”

From that day on, their life has been an adventure, living each day as it was the very last. They count their blessings and not their problems; they count their friends and not their enemies. They choose to remember the good moments instead of the bad ones. Always making sure they will not forget again…

© 2009 photo: Gabriela Abalo – Author

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Garb, This a highly inspring story one that is qualified to positively change someones life. It makes one realise how wasteful we can be with our lives in pursuit of worldly cares and yet there is a real life to be led. The story has impacted on me.

Edward said...

I am inspired by this story. Sometimes reflecting on our lives and taking stock of what we have done with this precious gift of life we realize at the same time how much we have foregone or denied ourselves, as in the case of Martin.
This is one story that can turn round people's lives, and keep eyes set on what we have at hand that in most cases we never appreciate...

Bunda said...

So many of us, me included are guilty of living material lives. We over look the simple things in life and because of that we usually miss they bigger picture. We go through life without ever truly living and before we know it we're 60 wondering where our lives went!

The other day a friend pointed out to me all the beauitful but unseen flower along a route i use everyday to go to work but never noticed. and when I did notice them I saw beauty in a place i had neve trulyseen and it made me smile. Flowers are part of the little things in life, remember the saying, "Stop and smell the roses", well let's all stop and smell the roses in our lives!

Thanks Gabi for reminding us to live our lives before they are all lived out!

Sherry Bakhtian said...

Dear Gabi,

Another inspiring story! What I loved about it was the realization that we don't have to get old, we can keep on re-freshing ourselves and re-experiencing emotions on a deeper level with the same person. I loved it...


Gabriela Abalo said...

Dear Hameja,
thank you very much. I'm happy to know Martin's story inspired you.


Gabriela Abalo said...

Dear Edward,

If Martin’s story can change just one life then all I’m doing will be more than worthy!!
Thanks for being there.


Gabriela Abalo said...

Dear Bunda,
Your comment put a smile on me this morning. I agree with you, lets all of us stop to smell the roses and count our blessings.


Ps: there is a story coming with loads of flowers 

Gabriela Abalo said...

Thank you dear Sherry,

A friend told me yesterday: “when u change the way u look at things, things change” Martin and Berta did that therefore everything changed on their life and they were also able to experience love all over again.


Tazilinda said...

From first hand experience I can vouch and say prison really changes people some for the better while others end up worse off, in my experience I've seen it transform a close relative into what i would call a guardian angel....
My father did time for trumped up charges and since his release I am able to get some of the best advice on life and living from a man who NOW truly appreciates the value of living your life to the full.
We hardly ever saw our father at home because he was always busy with work trying to provide the best for his children (our family is pretty large) but now he has time for us, he's our dad, our friend, our mentor....he takes his time to make sure we're all doing well and speaks to us with love and passion. Sometimes you can tell he feels guilty for not giving us more of his time when we were younger but he appreciates that we are all still there for him and love him dearly.
He is a changed man and he sees life in a very different perspective....He no longer exists...he lives!

Gabriela Abalo said...

My dear Tazi, your comment touched my heart and gave me goosebumps. It is so great to know that what I'm writing about relates to what happens to people and therefore it is not fiction. As this is what this blog is about, real people, real challenges, real changes and above all… Embracing who we are!
I wish for many to embrace their challenges as your father and "Martin" did, then we will definitely will be going towards a greater world. One step at a time!

Thank you Tazi for sharing your personal story.

Loads of love to u and your father

Lea White said...

Good spirited persons deserve a second, a third a forth...chance. At times life tears you appart, cut you into pieces, puts them in the mixer and makes a milkshake of it. It makes you feel like that unlucky man who died, living the vertigo of falling 50 stories down, crashing in a speed of 200 kms , and the most amazing revelation happens: you are alive.

It's the tipping point: "the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable" (B. Walsh), and it does make sense, doesn't it?

Love, thanks for sharing this great story.

Gabriela Abalo said...

Dear Lea,
I believe the Universe give us many chances, as many as we need, but the end result is upto us. We are responsible for whatever happens to us, as we chose with our attitude and actions the final output.
Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Hope I c u back here.. there are many more stories to come.


Luke said...

We all must be careful what we term as success. A wrong definition can actually lead to frustrations and heart ache.
This is a very good and loaded story; let us not let the business of life to crowd us. Take a break and live life as opposed to just existing.

Gabriela Abalo said...

Thanks Luke

It is true we shall live life to the fullest enjoying the journey instead of focusing on the destination.


Bunda said...

Wow what a touching story, I think its good to take time to appreciate what we have been blessed with even with the pursuits of life.

just brilliant Gabi :)

Gabriela Abalo said...

Thank u Bunda!

and remember, live to fullest in the present moment.


Karl Chokotho said...

I loved the story.

It is true that when we die we are survived by what really has meaning: people will hardly announce that "He is survived by a house and 6 cars", they will rather say "He is survived by a wife and x kids".

When you write a book let me know, I will buy it.

Karl Chokotho

Gabriela Abalo said...

Thank you dear Karl,

We tend to believe that the more material things we give to our family the happier they will be, but the sad true is that all they want and ask for is for us to be there for them.
I'm so happy to c u in the blog!! Keep coming back