MPW.71 / 2019 Marsha’s Way by Stephen Swofford
Photographer
Stephen Swofford Littleton, Colo.
Team Lee

Story Summary

Marsha Tinsley has a lot of joy in her life. Twice a week she gets ice cream with her mom. Her favorite flavor is caramel, but she’ll happily try a strawberry short cake cone if the caramel is gone. Her babies, a collection of stuffed animals, cover every available space in her room. Her favorite, a floppy-eared caramel-colored dog named Carol, gets kisses before and after work. The stuffed animal will also occasionally be gently admonished when she’s ornery and won’t stay on her pillow. 

Marsha was born healthy. At four months old, a flu virus led to brain infection which changed the course of her life. Doctors told her parents that she would likely grow up deaf, dumb and paralyzed. At 58 years old, Marsha’s life has defied the odds. When a curveball comes her way, Marsha stares it down without fear. Learning that her dad died, she said “There’s another angel in heaven waiting for me.” When diagnosed with breast cancer, Marcia said “God wants my titties.” At 58, though she may have an intellectual disability, and she may need help tucking in her bed sheets, she lives in a group home with her two best friends, and her favorite nurse, (though she won’t say which one that is).