By Zan Martin
I thought it might be cathartic for me to write this blog and a fitting memorial to him as I share the powerful impact that my husband, Randy has had on my life. First, I’ll need to share some of the events leading up to when we met. Most of you know I was a missionary daughter born in the Congo, and that we moved quite often in my growing up years. Africa to New York, Los Angeles to Northridge CA, Atlanta GA, and then to Pulaski, TN. During my second year there in Pulaski while attending Martin Methodist College, I met my first husband Todd Grammer and we married the next year and moved to Chapel Hill, TN where he became a student pastor for the local Methodist Church. We also attended Middle TN State University and enjoyed those first years while I studied Commercial Art and he studied Recording Industry Management. I went on to land a job in Nashville with a large ad agency, Brumfield-Gallagher, and he ended up as an Audio Engineer for country music artist T. Graham Brown.
We were blessed to conceive and bring a healthy baby boy Jeff Grammer into the world in 1983, and that was one of the most joyful events I had experienced to date in my life. Unfortunately, Todd became quite addicted to drugs during those years on the road and became unfaithful, which I later discovered. To say I was in a bad place personally is an understatement. It was during this time that I met Randy who had been hired as an Art Director and in-house painter at Brumfield-Gallagher where I still worked. The attraction we felt for each other was immediate and intense from the moment we looked into each other’s eyes. It was as if we could see into each other’s souls, and we felt a bond that is hard to describe.
After a week or so, he came into my office and said, “We’ve got to talk.” When I asked why, he just pointed first at himself and then at me. So we went to lunch and discussed our situation, and decided if we were like most people we would end up in a torrid affair; both of us agreed we were not the affair type so landed on being just good friends.
The next day I put a note in his mailbox that simply said I think I found a friend which was the impetus for the song he later wrote and recorded titled The Note. For months I opened up and told him all about the struggles I was having with Todd and some I was having with my Dad, and he listened well, most often offered very sage advice. The problem was that even though our heads said we had to be just friends, our hearts were not in agreement. After stealing a few kisses and feeling guilty about them I decided I needed to look for another job and move out of his life altogether. I was offered a great position at Burroughs & Associates that led me into the automotive aftermarket for which I am so very grateful, as it became the best career home I could have asked for. A year or so passed, during which time I found out Todd had fathered another child and then made the difficult decision to file for divorce. I decided then that I would never, ever marry again.
A year later, I was eating lunch at a nearby restaurant when Randy came strolling in, spotted me, and after a hug, asked if he could join me. The first words he said were, “I got a divorce” and I replied, “Me too!” When he asked if I’d like to go out, I said “Like on a date?” to which he replied, “Yes!” I told him that I had shared with him so much about my pains and sorrows that I didn’t think that was a good idea and that I was never going to go down that path again. He was persistent though and our first date was a camping trip that led to many more. However, the closer we became, and the more he asked if I’d marry him, the more frightened I became of my feelings. For six years I ran away from him. After the sixth decline to his offer, he simply said he’d had enough, gave me back every gift I’d ever given him and ended it. My heartache was incredible and I called him every day, but he did not want to see me. Finally, he said to me, “Zan, you have spent your whole life being Bill & Rosemary’s daughter, Todd’s wife, and Jeff’s Mom, you never figured out who you are or what you want in life. Until you do, you will never be a good partner to me or anybody else.” Then he suggested I take two weeks off, saddle up my horse, pack up a lunch, a bible, a journal, and ride into the hills to try and figure it out. And I did just that. During those weeks I also began work on this drawing titled “My Life Story”.
Showing me as a happy-go-lucky child, turning to my horse as a helpmate during this soul search, the hawk always watching over me, and Randy ever-present in the background as he taught me how to fly.
Months went by and as my birthday began to approach Randy called and invited me to go out for dinner to celebrate. I had been seeing a counselor during those months to deal with all of these emotions and a few days before my birthday had a very cathartic dream that helped me to forgive Todd. By then he had remarried and was adopting the child he had fathered, and my counselor suggested I share the dream with him, so as I dropped Jeff off for a trip they were going on that weekend, I told it to him and his wife Lisa. We all hugged each other and cried and told each other we loved each other.
Randy picked me up for our date Sunday night and we had a great time, although he would not commit to where we were going with this. The next morning, on my birthday, I got a call from the hospital in Pulaski to advise that on the way back from their trip to Mississippi, Todd had fallen asleep at the wheel with the car on cruise control, while a box truck was entering the highway from a rest stop. The wreck was horrible and took the top of the roof off killing both Todd and Lisa on impact. Luckily the boys were not hurt badly. I called Randy to tell him the news, and by then my sister and brother-in-law offered to drive me to the hospital, to identify the bodies, and to bring the boys home after this tragedy. Randy told me to call as I was leaving to come home and he’d meet me at my condo, and to pack enough clothes for me & Jeff for two weeks, that we were staying with him. He kept us both very busy taking us to the Nashville Zoo, to movies, to the park, and even asked Jeff to use his hatchet to cut up enough wood for the fireplace in winter knowing instinctively that Jeff had confused feelings about the accident and could use a physical release. That boy spent two hours on the task. Randy simply knew he needed to vent with each stroke. I never would have known to do that.
The next month Randy was our everything, and my sisters went in together to buy airline tickets for Jeff & I to come to Florida for a visit. While there, I called Randy one night and said, “You know all those times you asked me to marry you? I’m down on one knee asking if you will marry me?” Of course, he said he’d think about it, which I totally deserved. We were married in September of that year in a church wedding and a Native American wedding ceremony. This September would have been our 30 year anniversary.
During all those years of being best friends, lovers, business partners, and soulmates he always helped teach me to become the best me I could possibly be. Thankfully, not a day went by that we did not tell each other how much we loved each other, how happy we made each other, or how blessed our lives were in both our personal and business lives. Not everyone can share such a beautiful, fairytale love story like ours.
Randy, I thank you for impacting my life in such a profound way. I will forever hold you in my heart and will hopefully find a way to walk this journey without you. Until we meet again, please keep showing me signs that you are watching over me. I love you with all that I am.