Giving energizes Hospice nurse
By CAROLYN HOPKINS
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 29, 2003
NEW PORT RICHEY - Martha Maciel is a free spirit who believes in living life to the fullest. She's also a hospice nurse at Gulfside Hospice.
"Hospice is a wonderful experience for me," she said. "When you work for this institution it frees you up, it frees your mind. There is no time to be concerned with yourself."
She and her second husband, Manny, came to Florida in the early 1980s after he retired from his fishing business in Massachusetts. He developed prostate cancer and was in and out of Community Hospital in New Port Richey, where she was a nurse. Manny fought the disease for 12 years. After her husband's death, Martha continued working at the hospital and later become a certified registered therapist in 1991 at age 71. She left the hospital at age 80 to work at Gulfside, where she is involved in primary care.
Art has been a lifelong creative outlet for Martha. At one time she took a hiatus from nursing to teach and run her own art studio in Rockport, Mass. Martha said Manny was supportive of her art work. "He felt every artist should have someone behind them. He encouraged me to go to Mexico to study, and that was a wonderful experience. Later I had more exposure to art culture in Spain and Italy."
Martha works four days a week at Hospice and spends the rest of her time painting. "I love to paint flowers. I like the architecture of something, the linear quality of the horizontal and vertical." She has won awards for her paintings, some of which are on display at the Hospice residence in New Port Richey.
When she's not working or painting, she designs and makes her own clothes. In March she took part in the Chasco Parade; she was dressed as the Statue of Liberty. She made her costume from 10 yards of fabric.
Martha says her "happy outlook keeps her healthy," along with her habit of taking one day at a time. She does not take prescription drugs, hasn't smoked since she was in her 30s and doesn't drink alcohol - not even wine.
She does drink a lot of water, eats vegetables, cheese and eggs, no meats. She exercises on a rebounder and enjoys gardening.
Martha turns 83 in July, and she plans to continue working at Hospice because "That's where I belong."
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