By Ginger DeShaney
To deal with the unexpected loss of his father, Kevin P. Martin Jr. started writing down stories and life lessons he had learned from his dad.
“Part of it was the grief processing … and as crazy as it sounds, I didn’t want to forget him. This was my way of keeping him in the present moment rather than the past,” Kevin Jr. said. “This was kind of my way of dealing.”
Without realizing it, Kevin Jr. had penned 50,000 words. His wife of 30 years, Lisa, knew his writings were something special. She encouraged him to turn the writing into larger concepts, which turned into chapters. “And before you knew it, unknowingly, I had a book,” said Kevin, who is a CPA by trade but is also a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Boston.
Kevin P. Martin Sr. had a very healthy life but when he started having issues, the family chased a diagnosis for about a year. A month after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Kevin Sr., 78, passed away on Sept. 10, 2019.
“All is Well: Life Lessons from a Preacher’s Father” will be available on June 20. Pre-orders are now open on Amazon at https://a.co/d/cKPC2vk. The book is published by Skyhorse Publishing and distributed by Simon & Schuster.
One hundred percent of the book’s profits will go to ALS research, care charities, and support organizations.
Kevin Sr.’s lessons inform his son’s life. The book features lessons on practicality, resilience, bucket lists, savoring life, leadership, parenting, giving, forgiveness, giving your kids love, faith, and education, and how to live a life with few regrets.
“My hope is that every reader, despite there being lots of lessons, can pull one or two or three things to really live their best life ever,” said Kevin Jr., who lives in Milton now but is still very involved in the South Boston philanthropic community.
When Kevin Sr. was in the hospital his last five days, he was intubated and couldn’t talk, so he used a notepad to communicate. His very last words on that notepad were: “All is well.”
“And it was comforting for me, as sad as it was, to know that his final words weren’t ‘I’m in pain’ or ‘Get the nurse,’ or something much more heavy,” said Kevin, Jr. “It was kind of a sense of this is OK.” That phrase has become the family’s motto, including a few family member tattoos of the same.
Kevin Sr. held several South Boston nonprofits close to his heart, including Julie’s Family Learning Program, The Gavin House, The Laboure Center, Marian Manor, South Boston Catholic Academy, Gate of Heaven, and South Boston Neighborhood House. Kevin Sr.’s beloved wife, Claire, who still lives in their South Boston house, continues to support the family’s charities.
One of the book’s chapters is called “Giving” and lists about a dozen charities Kevin Sr. supported. “I talk about the notion of how we can give time, treasure, and talent, and the importance of giving, and how my father was engaged beyond writing the check,” Kevin Jr. said.
Kevin Sr. was modest, quiet, humble, and all about family, friends, community, and God.
A pillar in South Boston, he touched many lives. As a testament to his impact in the neighborhood, more than a thousand people attended his wake, which had been moved to the basement of Gate of Heaven to accommodate everyone.
Kevin Jr., an only child, had a special relationship with his parents. He was very close to his father, even working with him for 30 years at Kevin P. Martin & Associates, P.C., the company Kevin Sr. founded. They took many family vacations together and their Cape houses were just yards away from each other.
“Golf, chess, and cribbage were staples in our house – my dad loved to talk over a game,” Kevin Jr. recalled.
“Some of my favorite conversations with him happened at Fenway Park – something about a hot dog under the lights,” said Kevin Jr., who is now the Massachusetts Office Managing Partner at CohnReznick, a national accounting and consulting firm. “I would give anything to have one more game with him.”
Ray Flynn, former Boston Mayor and Ambassador to the Vatican, had high praise for the book: “In ‘All Is Well,’ Kevin Martin, Jr. captures his father’s wisdom, wit, and humility. It’s an endearing profile of a man who spoke loudly with few words, especially about his faith. In life, Kevin achieved success, but in death, he achieved his dream of togetherness with Jesus and his family.”
Kevin Jr. will be promoting the book with tours, book signings (at some Major League Baseball parks), and other events. He hopes the community embraces the book just as his dad embraced the community.
“My father loved South Boston. He never wanted to move out,” Kevin Jr. said. “He just loved walking, bumping into family and friends, engaging in his charity work, and he loved getting his hot dog down at Castle Island.
“In the big picture, the book is about the good life, well-lived.”