My father, Jim Maybury, passed away on Saturday September 2, 2023.
James Richard Maybury, M.D. was born in St Paul, MN March 20, 1944. He was the 3rd of 4 children of Richard and Rose Maybury, following sisters Mary and Delores along with his younger brother John.
He met Bette Gerlitz at the hospital in St. Paul where they both worked … she was a single mother with a young daughter, and Jim enthusiastically jumped into the role of being a loving Dad to my sister, Cathy … by the time Cathy was 8 years old, the three of them were quite excited by the prospect of a baby brother, so I was added to the family tree.
Jim completed his Doctorate of Medicine at the University of Minnesota, and our family relocated to Indianapolis in 1975. He eventually decided Child and Adolescent Psychiatry was his calling, and he worked for many years at Larue Carter and Central State Hospitals, providing thoughtful and compassionate care to patients who suffered with chronic, disabling mental illness. I will always remember how he brought several of his teenage patients home to share Thanksgiving with us instead of them spending the holiday in the hospital.
Jim and Bette were very socially-conscious physicians, contributing charitably and serving the patient populations which they felt benefited most from their efforts.
I have had the good fortune to serendipitously encounter a few of their former patients in my life, each time receiving heartfelt admiration and appreciation for the care my parents provided in their time of need.
They were charter members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis, and established many of their most enduring and rewarding friendships with their fellow Unitarians, finding genuine kinship in the common priorities of social justice and a belief in the inherent dignity of all sentient life.
Jim was an avid tennis player for decades, and enjoyed casual bicycle riding (no skin suits or helmets) often biking to and from work at People’s Health Center on 10th Street to our home at 49th and Broadway, weather permitting. He enjoyed working in the yard, and he and Bette maintained a robust vegetable garden at their homes for decades.
When I was a kid, for several years Jim and I rode our bikes over to attend the Indy 500, using the Canal towpath for most of the trek to Speedway. We would load coolers with Twinkies, Doritos, soda and beer, and wade through the sea of passed-out denizens in the infield to get a prime spot right up by the fence, settling in for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing and the opportunity to get a good tan to kick off the summer.
Jim especially delighted in constructing items with ingenious methods. He was no engineer, carpenter or skilled artisan, but he always came up with workable solutions to bring his ideas to life. He built a small greenhouse into the corner of my childhood home to enhance the annual gardening effort; made a full-body, Chiquita banana Halloween costume out of PVC pipe, braided metal wire, crepe paper and lots of cans of yellow spray paint; and in his later years, he constructed a scale model of the universe in the large basement storage area, once again with the PVC and wire figuring prominently.
He always had a deep fascination with military history, though not an historian’s predilection for dates, facts and figures, but more the human stories behind the experiences of war.
Jim was a kind and gentle soul, soft-spoken and self-effacing, comfortably joining into any bemusement even if it was at the expense of his repute. My personality and daily routine bears greater resemblance to Bette’s, but I try to emulate Jim’s humble and patient approach in the things which matter the most.
My parents worked hard throughout their lives, and they planned carefully and saved judiciously to amply provide for a good life in their Golden years. Unfortunately, Bette’s health failed rapidly and she died in 2016 at the age of 74. Jim had begun having issues with cognitive dysfunction and dementia a couple of years earlier and was forced to enter into memory care, and by the spring of 2018, he had grown despondent after years of living in an institutional environment, so I built an addition to our home to facilitate him coming to live with us.
I remember my Aunt Brenda and Uncle Jeff visiting as we were nearing the end of construction, and his counsel that this would be the hardest endeavor I would undertake in my life. They watched over his mother for many years, under similar circumstances, and she had finally passed away.
The journey of the past 5 years has been every bit that much an exercise in my capacity of forbearance. I am not a natural caregiver, but I could not walk away from him in his moment of desperation, so we made the journey together.
It is an ongoing struggle to feel adequate in your efforts and results as you care for someone through their decline towards the inevitable. That his stretched out over more than a decade rendered elusive any sense of peace and well-being on my part, as the losses were always subtle, the progress reports to friends and relatives rather uncharacterized in their substance.
Jim Maybury, the wonderful Dad, husband, Grandpa, “Doc”, etc., so many of us were fortunate to experience in our lives was mostly lost to us long ago. I am most relieved for his sake, as he has finally found peace and comfort, but I am also grateful for the opportunity for the rest of us to be able to embrace a sense of grief so long deferred.
I will always treasure the few moments in these final years when Jim was sufficiently cogent to find his voice and express his gratitude to me for bringing him home. Many people over the years have payed me the compliment of “good son” but those brief fleeting moments of being in the presence of my Dad and hearing those words from him have validated my experience, and I would do it all over again.
I would close with the work by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Success”
“To laugh often and much:
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children:
To earn the approbation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends:
To appreciate beauty:
To find the best in others:
To give of one’s self:
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition:
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation:
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived -
This is to have succeeded”
You did good Dad, you did real good.
Your loving son,
Matthew Todd Maybury