After meeting with an old high school classmate, she said to me, I had to look you up and when I saw your face, I was like, oh I remember her, she was so nice. It made me feel good. Recently, I was invited to sit on a committee for a medical based fitness organization. I have sat on quite a few committees, but this particular one I was privledged to be asked and be involved. It was for the Marla Richmond M.S. Memorial Education Award. I then found myself asking, How Do You Want To Be Remembered in Life?
I was on a different committee at the time in the fall of 2009. It was to interview candidates for the Board of Directors. There were two openings. I was slated to interview two candidates, one just happened to be a local attorney. Through email, we made arrangements to speak on the phone for the interview. Evenings worked well for me so my husband could put my daughter to sleep. I was expecting my second child. The candidate and I had a great conversation and why he should be on the Board of Directors. After some time, he spoke about his wife, her involvement with the organization, her influence and passion in the fitness industry. Through our conversation, we learned his wife and I graduated with our master’s from the same institution. After we were done, Marla wanted to speak with me.
We had the same professors and talked about them. She walked down memory lane with me when her children were little, while she was working on her degree and writing her fitness education book that would set her up for international travels in teaching fitness from an academic standpoint. She owned her own personal training company and trained primarily women, my passion exactly. We laughed and she was so inspiring to me. I mean, to write a book with small kids, travel internationally and start your own business while raising two kids, it was amazing to me (and all before social media existed, she did it all on her own). We exchanged email addresses and exchanged a few brief emails.
It was a fun hour for me when we spoke. She was engaging, outgoing and high energy. Shortly after we spoke, we were to meet up for lunch, however, her son was diagnosed with cancer and she needed to be there for him. I told her it was where she needed to be and offered any help I could give and ended it “take care of yourself too.” As a mom, I often find we take ourselves and our health for granted, so it served as a reminder that we too need to be cared for. It was the last time I heard from her. I later learned she was not feeling quite well and her son’s doctor decided to check her out as well. They discovered Stage IV Lung Cancer. From someone who never smoked and exercised until the day she passed, with oxygen tanks attached and all, it was a quick 9-weeks for her. I am saddened we never had the opportunity to meet. I know she would have been on my Personal Board of Directors. Her husband stated to me that it would have been a memorable lunch. I can only imagine since our conversation was memorable!
When invited to be a part of this committee in creating an award to honor a woman who was a true pioneer in medical based fitness, women’s health, and I am saying this, an original mompreneur, When I was reached out and asked to be a part of this, I was like, *turns head over both shoulders* who me? I barely knew her. I missed the conference call (mothering duties), but the criteria for the award was well, too stiff. And she was not. But from what I knew was this and stated this to the head chair: “Was there any discussions about how the nominee displayed acts of encouragement, volunteering to help build a center that was destroyed by the hurricanes (for example) or volunteering in a community who has no access to fitness or health, but devoting their time to bringing awareness. Or to help engage a community into fitness, health and wellness? I am learning it is not about the number of articles published or the awards one has under their belts, it is about how one gives back to a community, to their peers and to the world. It doesn’t have to be the MFA community, but a community in greater need than our own. I say this because from the little I knew of Marla, she was there for others in greater needs than her own and it showed until the day she passed. Her willingness to be there for others, even when she was down and out speaks volumes. The award should be reflective of the person Marla was, not only for her accomplishments, but how she lived her life. That is how we want to be remembered on Earth and how MFA is choosing to remember and honor her.”
This criteria was added for the award was “Describe how you have displayed acts of encouragement, volunteered to improve access and awareness to fitness or health and/or to engaged your community in fitness, health and wellness.” Now the award was complete.
It comes down to this in life. Our actions, our words, to give our time in such a way that leaves an impression on others, our ability to give back, be a leader, to be an example, whether for your children or your peers, have compassion, gratitude, loyalty, have a positive outlook and to live a life that truly gives us and others life is a life well lived. And that my friends is what makes others remember us when we are called to go Home.
Marla Richmond wrote The Physiology Storybook: The Owner’s Manual for the Human Body in which is used for medical students to help them better understand exercise physiology.
An exerpt from Marla’s book:
Wellness is a gift you have
A lifetime to open.
Climb and run hard
But take the time to rest and reflect!
Nourish your body from the foods from the Earth.
Stretch your mind–question and discover.
Feed your spirit with the gift of
And the joy of laughter!
Celebrate your humaness!
Ever changing, ever growing.
Imperfect and beautifully sculpted,
By life’s challenges and mistakes.
Take them, Make them.
There is no pill, nor man-made Hereplan,
Than can match the magic with which,
You were created.
Good health is an irreplaceable gift.
Make the time to open it and look inside.
For much of the rest is an illusion.
-Marla Richmond, 2001
This is an Afterforward written by her husband:
In Memory of Marla Richmond