A Cedar Cove Sob Story: The Happy Ending

Folks, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

On Tuesday, Claudia Barber-Martin of Detroit was having a treatment to battle the breast cancer with which she was diagnosed last October. By 3 a.m. Wednesday, she was boarding a plane to Seattle. Her visit to Port Orchard for Cedar Cove Days, a celebration of South Kitsap author Debbie Macomber, had been arranged in secret by her 22-year-old son, Adam Martin of Chicago.

Martin had scrimped and saved from his job at Hot Topic to buy the discount plane ticket and sign his mother up for a couple of reserved Cedar Cove events, including a cruise with Macomber. There was only one thing he was unable to secure, lodging.

He tried, even contacting the Cedar Cove Association for help, but nothing firm surfaced.

“I wanted everything to be very special for her, because she is very special to me,” Martin wrote in an e-mail to the association.

If anyone deserved this trip, it was his Mom, Martin said. Barber-Martin, who works as a hockey scorekeeper, is also an avid volunteer with scouting groups and at a Detroit Veteran’s hospital. She has been honored for her work by the City of Detroit. She raised Martin and his sister as a single mother and even put them through private Catholic school.

Claudia Barber-Martin
Claudia Barber-Martin

Martin – whom his mother describes as “a sweetheart,” 6-foot-four, with strawberry blond hair to his waist – sprung the surprise on her while the two of them were celebrating her 51st birthday at a restaurant in Chicago Tuesday night. Barber Martin was undeterred by the lack of a roof over her head.

“I said, OK. I’ll figure something out,” she said.

I ran into Barber-Martin in Port Orchard on the first day of the Cedar Cove Days festival. She had the name of a possible lead on a room, but was having too much fun in Macomber’s yarn shop to call just then.

That evening, I threw a post up on the blog, saying she needed a place to stay. I had given her my cell number and invited her to call if she got in a pinch. When I didn’t hear from her, I figured she was OK, but still, I wondered. So did many other people. On the blog and by e-mail, I heard from nearly a dozen folks either inquiring after Barber-Martin’s welfare or offering a room in their homes. One woman offered a fully furnished travel trailer.

But by 9 p.m. Wednesday, Barber-Martin had indeed found a place to lay her (by then) weary (and jet-lagged) head. A family with an upstairs apartment had offered it to her for a fee Barber-Martin described as “very reasonable.”

And she is happy to pay it. You see the husband of the family – who picked Barber-Martin up in their van after the children’s soccer practice – is a contractor. Things have been tough with the recession and all, and they are behind on payments and in danger of losing their home.

“I was very pleased,” said Barber-Martin. “You have to give back. Someone gave to me, and so now, I’m giving back.”

The apartment is lovely, she said, and she awoke refreshed and ready to take in more of Cedar Cove. At the opening ceremony today, Jerry Childs of the Cedar Cove Association, inquired after her from the stage to see if she’d been taken care of.

“I’ve become a little kind of celebrity,” she said.

Barber-Martin has become fast friends with other Cedar Cove visitors.

“It’s been so much fun. Everyone is like one big family,” she said.

Oh, yes, and then, as if things couldn’t have gotten better, she and her buddies ran into Debbie Macomber herself at Port Orchard’s waterfront park, and Debbie shared her lunch with them.

“It’s been a great time,” she said. “It’s amazing. Everyone has their own story.”

But, none quite like yours, Dear.

Debbie, are you taking notes?

4 thoughts on “A Cedar Cove Sob Story: The Happy Ending

  1. Wonderful. Both Heather Cole with Hidden Treasures and Kathy Hall with Reflections B&B’s had last minute cancellations and would have taken her in, as well. So, let everyone know they can come to the event and not worry.

    It has been so much fun to see people stream into Port Orchard. They are delighted with the town. It’s fun to see it through their eyes, and to welcome them.

    So, let them know to come and they will be welcomed.

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