We decided several months ago to put our house on the market and begin a new chapter in our lives.
We built this home 12 years ago and knew there were a few things that needed to be done before talking to a realtor — some work on our front steps, for one.
A friend gave us the name of a local contractor, Marshall Altman, who came and solved the problem in a couple of hours, finding a way to make the stairs better than the original construction.
While he worked, we mentioned we were planning to sell the house and had several other jobs that needed to be done.
What, for instance?
Well, we said, we need a new kitchen faucet installed. We need to hook up a new water softener. We need to pressure wash the outside. And we needed some work done in our great room, which has high ceilings.
To everything we said, Marshall said no problem.
What about the cathedral ceiling? You’re no Michelangelo, Marshall.
No problem, he said. He’ll build a platform using 2x4s and plywood, then set his ladder on the platform. He’ll be able to reach the entire ceiling.
Marshall spent much of February and part of March helping us get our house ready for selling, often stopping by between other jobs.
We talked often and learned about his wife, Danyelle, and his three girls. Marshall said he and Danyelle discouraged them from watching too much television. They wanted the girls to spend more time outside and they all spent a lot of weekends camping at a lot they owned.
Elaine kidded him that he was the same age as our daughter, 42, and maybe we should adopt him so we could have one handy person in the family.
When Marshall had finished his last job, he told us to let him know if anything else needed to be done.
About two weeks ago we came up with one more job — a dirty window that we could not get at except from the roof.
Marshall came, looked and, of course, said no problem. He’d be back early Monday — this past Monday — to clean it.
Monday morning came and went with no Marshall. In the afternoon Elaine texted him. No response. I called. Voicemail. We had an inspector coming in Tuesday and we called our realtor to see if he had any ideas.
And then he gave us the awful news: Marshall Altman and his wife Danyelle died in a car accident Sunday evening when a truck ran a stop sign on Half Creek Road in Awendaw; their three girls — aged 5, 9 and 13 — were hospitalized, the 9-year-old in serious condition.
The news hit us like a brick. We could only wonder if they were returning from a beautiful camping weekend.
As we lamented the loss of this wonderful man and his wife, and the sad, uncertain future that awaits their children, Elaine pulled up a text message Marshall had sent her after the final job:
“I enjoyed working with you. And if you need anything, just call . . . I wish you and bob the best. im better for meeting you!’‘
We miss him still. Rest in peace, Marshall.
Contact Bob Bestler at bestler6@tds,net.