Family First

To Capitol Ridge resident, nothing else matters

Adult father and son posing for photo

This is a story about a father. A father who led by example, building a family along the way. A father who would do anything for his wife and children. And so, when the time came that he needed them, the response was swift – easy, really.

As we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, to visit with this father and son is to experience the essence of Father’s Day while witnessing the ease with which unconditional love can be expressed.

John Martin is a people person. Visit with him even briefly in the lobby of Capitol Ridge at Providence and be ready to be interrupted. Passersby – whether they be an administrator, a neighbor, or the chef – are inclined to stop and offer a kind word. John readily returns the gesture, along with a warm smile.

“I need to talk to people,” says John. “It can be about anything. But I need to talk to people.”

Simple conversation is how John met his beloved wife, Margaret. He was in the United States Coast Guard when he crossed paths with a young woman in the Coast Guard Reserve. John would come to call her Peggy.

“I called her every day,” he says. “We grew closer and closer by talking. What she liked, I liked. Or if I did not already like it, I would try it.”

Well, that talk grew more serious.

“We had 44 wonderful years together,” says John.

After his military service, John embarked on a career as a police officer, which took the couple to Florida, Maine, and lastly, Sweet Briar College in Virginia. After retiring, they settled in upstate New York. It was a good life. A wonderful life marked by the binds of close family.

“When I was two, my mother died, and my father, he did his best,” says John, now 80. “But there was a war on and so the state intervened. We ended up in an orphanage. That’s why family is so important.”

On January 24 of this year, John’s beloved Peggy succumbed to congestive heart failure. John was heartbroken. He knew he would now embark on a “an entirely different life.” But there would be a constant. It would be a life grounded in family.

John’s son, whom he calls J.W., knew just what to do, which is how his father would find his way to Capitol Ridge in the quaint Elmhurst neighborhood of Providence.  J.W. is a 15-year member of the Providence Police Department, having followed in his father’s footsteps. The idea of moving his father close to he and his wife and two daughters did not take much convincing. It was just a matter of the details. Capitol Ridge, says J.W., stood out.

“This was something that had to be done,” says J.W. “He had to be near me.”

J.W. did his homework and visited several possible destinations for his father.

“After interacting with Dori Laack (director of community relations) and the rest of the staff here… they made it an easy decision,” says J.W. “The facility is great. It is just so comfortable.”

John echoes his son’s sentiments.

“The staff here is wonderful,” he says.

Capitol Ridge is a four-minute drive from J.W.’s home and even closer to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, where John receives care. John appreciates these conveniences. But no convenience outshines the fact that J.W. can visit his father nearly every day. With Peggy’s passing, John’s family stepped up to ensure he would not be alone. J.W. and his sister Hope worked together to move John from New York, expertly addressing all the details that come with such a change.

“I told them that all that stuff at the house is just stuff – get rid of it,” says John.

They did. Room by room, box by box. It was a gift to a father, really, to ease as much as possible a difficult time. It was a gift that allowed John to settle so nicely into Capitol Ridge, where a son can visit his father every day of the week.

“Family is everything,” says John.

Capitol Ridge at Providence