In memory of Marsha

Marsha, 1954-2012

I’ve been putting this off for a while, not wanting to face yet another loss that would’ve taken me to the funeral home if we’d been in town when it happened.

Just about exactly one year ago I wrote about Marsha, a competitor  in the 2011 Wells Weighs In contest who started out at 445 pounds but managed to not only ditch the motorized shopping cart at Wal-Mart but started riding a bike for the first time in 30 years.

She was proud of losing 60 pounds in the contest — by following a diabetic diet and riding an exercise bike — and seemed geared up to continue on her journey.

“I would love to ride that bike up to my cardiologist and say ‘See, I told you so!’” she wrote last June. “He just insisted I needed to have weight loss surgery, even after I explained my objections to it … 60+ pounds down and riding a bike, I’d love to flaunt it at him!”

Marsha struggled with all kinds of health issues, including diabetes and asthma, which wound up giving her a lot of trouble last summer and made it difficult for her to ride her new bike. I’m not sure if either of those were a factor in her death earlier this month at age 57, but I feel sad that she’s gone.

I only met Marsha in person once, when we got together for coffee at the Bluffton Hardees. She knew she faced a lot of obstacles, but she had an optimistic outlook and was fiercely devoted to her pets, grandkids and her responsibilities as a weather spotter and a United Way social media specialist.

“I’ve had so many medical issues — I should have died from a botched surgery in 2001 — that I felt like God must still  have me here for a reason,” she told me back in April of last year. “Things have happened and I thought ‘This is the reason I’m still here.’ But I’m still here, so he still has more things for me to do. Maybe this is one of the reasons, if I can lose weight and inspire others.”

I don’t know if Marsha ever lost any more weight. She didn’t mention it and I didn’t ask. I didn’t see her team in this year’s version of Wells Weighs In. But in one sense, at least, Marsha will continue to inspire us: She was the one who suggested we convert our team’s total amount of pounds lost to a food bank donation. We’ve done that both years we participated in the contest, and we’ll do it again next year if we enter another team.

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