Jo Ann Martin is a 53-year-old life-long resident of the Warren County area of Kentucky. Throughout her life Jo Ann has been faced with abuse, molestation, family deaths, having her children taken away and more. However, nothing has affected her more than the death of her second husband Steven Martin on December 11, 2016.
“My anniversary’s the 15th of this month, Steve died on the 11th and I had to bury him on the 14th and most of this month is what you see right now,” Jo Ann said while tearing up.
Jo Ann met Steven in 2000 while working at the Daily News. “I remember the very first time I ever saw him,” Jo Ann said. “…I said, ‘Damn there’s a real man right there.’”
“I just knew,” Jo Ann said. “Instant. I saw him. I fell in love.”
Jo Ann’s feelings for Steven never changed in the many years of their friendship. She loved him when she first saw him, throughout the time he was married, when he got divorced and even when he told her not to love him, she still did.
“He told me ‘don’t fall in love with me. I’ll never love you. We’re just gonna be real good friends,’” Jo Ann recalled from the time after his divorce when they were “friends with French benefits” for one another.
Despite it all Jo Ann still loved him and eventually he loved her as well. “Finally one day we was cleaning his trailer getting ready to sell it and he said, ‘hey I think I love you, let’s get married.’ And I said. ‘ok.’ Inside I was doing double backflips, I was happy…”
Jo Ann and Steven spent almost nine years of happy marriage together before he passed away.
“It’s like God sent him to me,” Jo Ann said. “I was what he needed and he was what I needed and I ain’t even mad at God for takin him.”
Steven was taken from Jo Ann of December 11, 2016 after suffering from a massive heart attack at their kitchen table.
“I called 911 while his eyes were rollin around in his head and he was graspin for air,” Jo Ann said while sobbing. “Then I had to pull him out and, pull him out of the chair and do CPR and it didn’t work.”
Jo Ann said that Steven’s family had a long history of massive heart attacks around the same age, but she never thought it would happen to him. “I think he knew he was gonna die,” Jo Ann said. “He had the insurance papers already out of the safety box.”
Following his death Jo Ann has had to learn how to keep care of the house herself. She relied heavily on Steven for many things such as laundry, cleaning, yard work, finances and even rolling their cigarettes every week. “Some things I still can’t do,” Jo Ann said while tearing up. “I don’t keep the yard like he kept it. It pisses me off I can’t keep it like he kept it.”
One year following his death Jo Ann is still struggling with the loss and figuring out how to live without him.
“Some people think you should be over it by now and some people think that it hasn’t been long enough, that it’s new and I really don’t know how to deal with loss, cuz I never really had to deal with loss like this,” Jo Ann said.
She no longer sleeps in their old master bed room; she sleeps at the other end of their trailer and uses the smaller bathroom. Nearly everything in their bedroom is the same as he left it the day he died. “He told me if he died that I need to move into town and sell all my stuff, but I can’t do it,” Jo Ann said. “I can’t go through his stuff.”
She will visit Steven grave at least once a month and spend time cleaning the headstone, redoing the flowers and speaking with him.
“I know it’s gonna be hard to get through the month of December,” Jo Ann said. “I’ve told everyone to stay away from me…”