SIX NATIONS – Timbuck Martin was a man who loved his family and loved the game of golf.
That’s why more than one year after his passing, his wife Sue and the rest of his family and friends decided to live out his dream of hosting a golf tournament this June to raise money and awareness for individuals and families dealing with the unexpected costs of undergoing an organ transplant.
“Timbuck was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in 2011 and was given five years to live if he didn’t receive a double lung transplant,” said Sue. “He ended up having the transplant in 2014, after only being on the wait list for maybe seven weeks.”
IPF is a type of lung disease that results in scarring of the lungs for an unknown reason. Over time, the scarring gets worst and it becomes hard to take in a deep breath and the lungs cannot take in enough oxygen. As thrilled as the Martins were for the operation, there was a lot of unexpected costs incurred that had an impact on the family.
“The person undergoing an operation like this one has to have a support person with them the entire time they’re at the hospital recovering, in case they are unable to answer a question, sign a document, or make a tough decision,” said Sue. “And it’s not like hospitals have free hotels, or places where the support person can live temporarily. So, paying for food, travel back and forth, hotels and more really adds up during an extended recovery period.”
Sue said that Six Nations Health Services helped a lot with some of the costs, but despite their help it still wasn’t enough to leave the family unscathed. “Six Nations Health Services offered a lot of emotional support as well as financial support. They were fantastic. A lot of people in the community don’t know that there are places in the community to help them out in times like this,” said Sue. “I wish everybody knew all their options.”
Timbuck had many jobs throughout their more than 30 years of marriage and Sue owned her own business as well to care for their four children; Colin, Shani, Brandon and James. Timbuck, also known as Jim, inherited the nickname Timbuck from his grandfather years earlier. He is from Six Nations and over the years was a truck driver, licensed security guard, electrical contractor and even served eight years in the army as a staff sergeant. Sue was Timbuck’s support person and having to put her business on hold while Timbuck recovered, and having to travel to Hamilton and Toronto for three years took its toll on the family financially.
“He was the main breadwinner in the family, so when he and I both stopped bringing in an income and he saw how hard things were getting — that’s when he decided he really wanted to help others who may be in our same situation.”
Throughout the entire process, Sue and Timbuck really felt encouraged, supported and loved by all the family members, cousins, friends, grandchildren and his sisters — Spanky, Sandi, Clyde and Tina. Before Timbuck had the lung transplant his cousins hosted a spaghetti fundraising dinner to help offset some of the costs.
“A lot of people really supported us and we appreciated it so much,” said Sue.
Timbuck was transferred from Toronto General Hospital to St. Johns Rehab Hospital in Toronto. There he met a patient in physio who was a fundraising co-ordinator with a lot of experience and had great ideas on how to raise money and find sponsors.
“He was really thinking big,” said Sue. “But we both knew that we should start off relatively small in our first year — I suggested that we put on a golf tournament and he thought that was a great idea.”
Playing golf was one of Timbuck’s favourite things to do, and he was good at it. He and his friends would go to Myrtle Beach to golf every year for almost 25 years.
“He was really well-known in the community, talked to everyone, teased a lot of people — that was a big thing with him, being a jokester,” said Sue. “He got along with everybody and he knew a lot of people through his business, and my business too. When my customers came in to see me, most of the time they would end up sitting on the deck visiting with Timbuck.”
When Timbuck was released from the hospital in February, 2015, he underwent a fairly strict physiotherapy and recovery plan. But it didn’t take too long before he was back on the green hitting around a golf ball with his friends.
“He was determined to be back on the golf course as soon as the golf course opened — and he was,” said Sue. “Our plan was to spend the rest of the summer planning and organizing the tournament and finding sponsors, then we would host the tournament in summer 2016.”
Things were starting to look really promising for the family. Timbuck was out of the wheelchair, breathing better, and not even needing crutches. Things took a turn for the worse on December 8, 2015, when he was diagnosed with lymphoma, a form of cancer. Two weeks later on December 22, Timbuck passed away.
“It happened so fast,” said Sue. “The entire family was rocked because up until then everything was going to well. The cancer came out of nowhere.”
Sue and her friends had still planned on hosting the golf tournament in summer 2016 in honour of Timbuck, but it felt too fresh to be able to pull it off so quickly without Timbuck there.
“We planned to still do the fundraiser last year, but it was better to hold off because I got sick and everything had happened so fast,” said Sue. “Now we’ve had another year to plan and we’re ready to honour one of Timbuck’s last wishes.”
The tournament is set for Sunday, June 4, 2017, at the Greens at Renton. There will be a booth set up at this year’s Bread and Cheese event where the golf committee will be selling 50/50 tickets, hats, visors, and a few other things to help with the costs. Golfers can also sign up for the tournament as well and pay the entrance fee.
“There is a whole team of people who have been involved in setting up, planning, and organizing this tournament. Timbuck would be so happy,” said Sue.