November 6th, 2006. It's a day retired Abilene police chief Melvin Martin will never forget. That's the day he suffered a heart attack.
Chief Martin was headed back to the house after a walk, as he so often did. Only this time, something was different.
"We were going to sit down to eat, and then, all of a sudden, I started sweating profusely," Chief Martin says.
Anyone who knows Chief Martin well, knows of his love for his two dogs, whom he calls his "little girls".
The night of his heart attack, Sugar, the oldest "little girl", knew something wasn't right with her owner.
"Sugar's eyes told me that she knew something was wrong, big time wrong," Martin says. She was right.
Though the heart attack came unexpectedly, Martin was well aware of the symptoms before it happened. It's knowlege he realized in his police years, and it's something many Abilene resdients don't have.
"Too many people don't want to believe it," Martin says, "They do not want to take the care. They do not want to respond to a hospital, thinking that maybe it'll go away, maybe it's something else. Don't do that."
Lack of exercise puts people at a higher risk for heart attack. But it wasn't exercise Chief Martin was lacking; it was a healthy diet.
That's something he's changed, and now knows a thing or two about.
"The old addage of fruit and vegetables, as boring as it is, you've got to do it," Martin says, "You've got to change what you eat; eating fish instead of red meats, that kind of thing."
Aside from healthy eating and exercise, there's one more thing Chief Martin stresses.
"Stress is a killer. It can take you under," Martin says.
His life now?
"Stress-free, as much as possible; and, of course, the retirement after 40 years with the police department. That has helped."
Now the chief and his wife, Maryann, are enjoying a life of retirement, and every heartbeat along the way.