Memories of Martha
Martha Lee Pyeatt Sharpe 1920 - 2011
Martha passed away peacefully on Friday, June 24th in Arizona.
As a mother-in-law, I am convinced there was and is no other like Martha, and also as a friend, she was the best. She inspired me, supported me, she listened to me, and she taught me. I was truly in “awe” of this wonderful lady from the day I met her in 1967. From her charming southern drawl, to her kind and loving ways, to her many talents, of which sewing and gourmet cooking were two. Martha also had a fantastic ability to make one feel so at home around her, O could hardly wait to return to Strathroy to be near she and Mace in their beautiful home (Marth sure cleaned it up nicely after all those hockey games in the living room!!!) and “nosh” on one or more of those awesome meals! What a patient , helpful woman she was.
When Mace got into the kitchen, and in his desire to conjure up and make a unique and delicious meal of duck or goose or Chinese food, or Mexican food, or just carve up freshly caught fish, he would leave a “trail of destruction” behind, and Marth would very quietly, and in her usual cool , unassuming manner, would dutifully be there to help as “sous” chef, and also clean up the dishes, pots and pans, BBQ grill, and food droppings and whatever else was scattered about the kitchen after Mace’s meal preps. In spite of, or because of all this, the food was always mouth-watering delicious! Marth taught me so much, including her special finishing touches on an outfit I wore to a wedding I went to for a friend of Peter in Strathroy. She helped me finish it the night before the wedding. I “made” the clothes….Marth “tailored” the clothes. You could almost wear anything Marth made inside out, they were finished off so well. She had a way of doing things in the best way possible, as no one else probably could, or would do in her own subtle, efficient way. The expression “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”, must have been made for Marth, as this is how she obviously lived.
Martha was very selfless, and quiet in helping in any situation. On one occasion after Lauren was born, she stayed with us for a week and did more than I can say, to help me in transition from a wife, to now, a wife and mother. She also helped with everything from cooking to cleaning, to calming Lauren when I was resting. I admired, and loved this incredible woman so much, and always will. How fortunate I was to marry into a family with such a loving and loved matriarch.
Martha Lee is physically gone, but she was such a dominant force of love, kindness, generosity and wisdom in so many ways, she will always be in our hearts and memories. I miss you Marth.Decie Sharpe
Polly and Peter used to drop me off in London to spend the weekends with Marth, we played hundreds if not thousands of games of Gin Rummy through my childhood, but one memory that sticks out is when I finally said I was sick of gin, and wanted to go bowling. She took me out on the town to find a bowling alley. At this time I was around 13 and a pretty good athlete, we found an alley but I was really upset to see that it was 5 pin, and not 10. I whined a bit, but was taunted by Marth to come play against her. I chuckled, as a cocky baseball star, I wasn't about to lose to some old broad. She killed me, and after each strike she threw, she'd drop a quick glance to me and hold back a smile, often unable to withhold the "chuckle of victory" that I sometimes see in her daughter (my mom) Polly too. My fondest memories were simply watching baseball games with her, and listening to her berate Dave Winfield for pop flying out almost every at-bat.Hell of a lady.
John 'JB' Bulloch
So many thoughts flood my mind when I think of Aunt Martha! She was truly my favorite, I must say. I think it was her laugh that I remember most. Once when she and Mace were visiting Grandma in Fayetteville, I walked in and gave Martha a huge hug and then turned to give Mace one…after I stepped away, Mace pulled me back and said "I don't get to hug too many young good looking women so I better get another one in!" Martha just laughed and laughed! I also will treasure the time Polly and Martha were in Arkansas and we went out to eat at Fred's Hickory Inn. We had such a good time and a wonderful visit. She will be so missed.Connie Pyeatt Petri
Marth was, quite simply, the “Mother of all Mothers”, and not only to my four brothers and me. She often played a surrogate role (unknowingly of course) for a few friends and relatives. She was the epitome of grace, loyalty, sacrifice and integrity. She was an outstanding wife, sister, aunt and grandmother.
I remember when Martha & family would come to Arkansas the whole family would get together and we would have so much fun. Also she would bring wild ducks to cook and I had never had duck of any kind and I found out how good it was. Martha was a good friend and we kept in touch until the last two years I still sent Christmas Cards but Martha wasn't able. She will be missed.
I have been reflecting about Aunt Martha. We used to meet at her home after I finished work, for Friday night suppers, after Mace had died and when I was "on your own" (after my divorce) as she used to say, and have a marguerite, soak in her Jacuzzi or tub ... and try to sleep ... we both had trouble sleeping so when we woke up she would say "well how many hours did you get?" ... then we would plan some fun work activity to be productive and try to get tired again. We would often do preserves. Aunt Martha's marmalade, damson plum jam and chilli sauce when in season. She always said to me "just do one thing at a time when you are boiling once the sugar is in" ... and she was right. I have had a few burnt orange marmalade recipes when I have not heeded her advice. She would also say "if you plan well you will have just the perfect amount for the perfect number of jars" ... she was right there too ... whenever I have just the "perfect amount" to fill my jars I smile and think about her and her wisdom, kindness, southern drawl, her sense of humour, her determination, her curiosity, her generosity of time and spirit, her sense of adventure and her love and respect for all of us. How fortunate I am to have had her in my life!Wendy Sharpe
Where to begin??? I guess I'll start by saying that I do not remember ever having a bad time with Marth. Even when I laid under the sun lamp for too long and too close and ended up having blisters on my blisters on my face, she took it all in stride. Out came the steeped tea bags, and there I sat, with them all over my face, while she remained silent, knowing I felt bad enough already.
During WW 2, Martha Lee (MARFA LAY) and John lived in Prairie Grove, Arkansas with Gramma Pyeatt, Barry, Ronny, and Peter along with Maxine and Jo Lee Rankin. It was a large old house with plenty of space for all of us.
In her own quiet way, Marth set an example for all of us on what is really important in life. She dedicated her life to her children and didn't care about material things even though she did without so much as a child herself. Who of us would allow our kids to move all of the furniture in our living room to the side of the room so they could play floor hockey and wear the carpet down to the plywood. We all learned so much from Marth without realizing it at the time but which has been a significant part of who we are to-day.
I remember when Kelly was married in 1988 and Martha made red and white place mats for Kelly as red was Kelly's favourite colour. She made eight placemats and eight napkins which was so generous as at that time I don't think she had even met Kelly.
I know Aunt Marth she is no longer in pain and not suffering any more, but we will miss her dearly. She was so full of life and humor and love. She loved you all so much. She dedicated her life to you...no other higher homage than a mother and her children. Some of the times I've laughed the hardest were with her. She and mom were always getting so tickled they couldn't talk and wet their pants half the time! Can't say I didn't a time or two myself!
I think it hit mom pretty hard. She was close to Marth and Polly both. I'm glad mom called and talked with her last week, even for a short time. I think she feels some closure that she was able to talk with her so recently. I loved Marth and Mace. I was able to spend time with them while I was in Phoenix and they were in San Diego. On Labor Day's I went fishing with Mace off Point Loma. I have wonderful memories of them both.Terri and Maxine
Marth was great to be around and learn from..... like sewing. She showed me how to tailor. One time when I was staying in Strathroy, she cut a pair of men's dress pants to the length of a pair of shorts for me! We had fun working together. I don't know where she got that idea but I sure loved the time I spent with Marth on the project and felt so cool! Funny the things you remember.Heather
My favorite picture and moment in time. It was just before Marth started to lose the ability to travel and to interact and just before I went broke. My back patio overlooking the desert and the mountains; Marth loved to sit there and watch and listen to the birds of which there were plenty.
I’m not a member of the family (though when I’ve had a couple of cocktails I sometimes believe I am). I never had the privilege of meeting Marth, but I feel that I know her from Polly’s stories and memories. My very favourite how-we-met story, and one that I’ve asked Polly to repeat for me, is the story of how her parents met. I can’t imagine a more romantic tale, and the happy marriage and family that ensued is Marth’s great legacy. My condolences to Polly and her brothers and everyone who loved Marth.Anne McCourt, Polly's workmate
For some reason I harbour an odd memory of when Martha was staying with us some years back. Polly and I returned home from work and I noticed a large pile of pulled weeds at the edge of our patio. Upon enquiry Marth told me she had time to kill so she pulled them all up. It must have taken hours. A few years later we had her brother Barry staying with us and I noticed that again, when we returned from work there was a large pile of pulled weeds at the edge of the patio. Same thing - he had time to kill so he just pulled them all up. An odd memory but a nice one.Peter Bulloch