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Memories of Martha

Martha Lee Pyeatt Sharpe 1920 - 2011

Martha passed away peacefully on Friday, June 24th in Arizona.

Any stories or pictures you wish to share are warmly welcomed and will be posted to this site in tribute to Marth. They can be emailed to peter@bulloch.ca.


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.

The greatest part of being in Marth’s company was her knack of having fun while doing most anything. I had many, many happy and fun-filled times with her. Oh how I loved her giggle which seemed to have that southern drawl in it, as well as her speech! On several occasions before Peter and I married, I would stay over at the Sharpe’s home in Strathroy, sharing Polly’s room. Polly and I would stay up talking until the “wee” hours of the morning. Marth would inevitably come in, and after her distinctive giggle, ask us why we were still awake. Then she would close the door, sit on the bed and join in on the conversation. Then all three of us would be talking, laughing and giggling together, trying to be quiet enough not to awaken Mace.

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.

Some underestimated Marth because she was shy and often not assertive with her opinions or desires. Others witnessed enormous strength when she comforted, counseled or protected. Marth put others first, to a fault. I always think of her as that person who, seeing only four pieces of pie for five people promptly announces she never did really care for pie.

Marth listened. She allowed her children to make their mistakes. I recall her watching me walk into situations she knew would not end well, but let me forge ahead. When life pushed any of her kids around, she was there, in her own quiet supportive way, providing an ear, a shoulder, often a sacrifice, and accompanied with (almost always) a grin. Marth was the perfect catalyst in my upbringing which had its many challenges, considering four sons cohabiting with one daughter. She was my warrior, growing up in a house full of men. I am strong and loyal because of it.

Anyone who knew her is better for it. She touched so many lives in a graceful, quiet way. She made a profound difference without realizing it.

Mace once said to me that he marvelled at our relationship, that it was natural or at least expected that mothers and daughters love each other, and at minimum, tolerate each other. What was so satisfying to him was how much Marth and I actually LIKED each other. We accepted everything about each other. He maintained this was a very unique bond that, if the truth were known, few mothers and daughters shared. Few are the confidantes we were to each other. I will always have pride in that.

I am so grateful that Marth was my mother. It was a privilege to have her in my life. I will love and hold her close forever.



Polly


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.
 

Billie Pyeatt


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.

Now Mace on the other hand had a comment or two when he came home from the hospital!! I was about 14 at the time. Strathroy was one of my summer vacations that Mom and Dad would send me on, and I always looked forward to it. Marth would keep me busy with bowling, swimming at the Lions pool, crafts, cooking and trying to teach me to sew. Sorry Marth ... I still hot glue and duck tape my stuff. Sewing was not for me! In fact, Marth got an 85% in Home Ec, from Saunders Secondary School, for a dress she helped me with (or should I say made!). It was a lime green material that had NO BODY to it, and the only thing I did was make the pocket. I can still hear her laugh, because it was so narrow, only a pencil could fit in it. She said "Don't worry, you can wear it for Halloween"!!!

There was always something cooking in that great kitchen in Strath, and in any home she had. It was wonderful to pop in cause you knew you were sure to be served up something yummy, with a piece of corn bread on the side. Hand me downs from your older Aunt was not usually something you would be thrilled about, BUT ... Marth had STYLE! I can still remember squeezing my feet into a pair of her dress loafers and telling her they fit me fine. With a giggle and a little squeak in her voice she said "Well maybe there is a little stretch left in them yet." She new damn well they were too small but said nothing!

Which reminds me of how we just happened to go shopping together when I was around 16,and I came home with a new outfit. Times were tough then for Mom and Dad financially, and the new outfit meant so much to me!....Our trip through the winding roads and steep narrow passages heading up to Jerome Arizona, with Wendy at the wheel was to say the least an experience. You see, Paul's 4 wheel drive truck had serious brake issues that made each turn an adventure. There we were careening around hair pin turns, sweat dripping off Wendy's brow, me in the back seat video in hand and Marth smiling and enjoying the scenery, commenting on the severe drop along the edge! When we arrived in Jerome, Marth smiled and just said something like "Well, that took less time than I thought it would to get here."

Once again, she was well aware of what was going on, but chose to be silent ... Later in life, when I was first married and the kids were small, a trip to see Martha and Mace was a treat for us all! Halloween never came by without the kids and I driving into town to get the "Special Treat" that was packaged up just for them. The extra long drive was always worth it!

Aunt Martha was someone I GREW UP with. What I mean by that is, it didn't matter what age you were at the time, whether it was 6,16,26,or46, Aunt Martha always treated you with respect and made you feel like you were important, and loved. I learned a lot from this woman over the years, and when I think of her I can clearly hear her laugh, see her throw back her head in a chuckle, and say in her ever present Southern accent my name! Thank goodness for memories!

Jackie Sharpe Dewan


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.

Maxine and Gramma P worked at the Elizabeth Hospital and Marth stayed home with the five kids as we were called then. Marth was in the kitchen A LOT and John was always on a chair at her side.

One day Marth was making a meatloaf when the phone rang. She left the kitchen to answer the phone and returned shortly.

Supper time (as we called it then) arrived and we all sat down to eat our ALWAYS DELICIOUS meal. But
something was terribly wrong. The meatloaf didn't taste good AT ALL. After a FEW COMMENTS, JOHN piped
up with "Well, Marfa Lay, I did pit a little BAB-O in it."

One more little Marth story---Two houses down from us lived a family who always had a really trash filled yard. I was not supposed to go there to play. One day I decided to go anyway. There was a huge tree down in their back yard--great place to play. I jumped off (it was probably 2 or 3 feet off the ground) and landed on a broken bottle--big gash in my right foot. Hopped home on my left foot , screaming --blood spurting every where. Marth to the rescue. I had to tell her where I'd been. She got the bottle of alcohol out and poured it liberally on my foot and bound it up tightly. Needless to say, I did not ever go back to that house to play.

JoLee


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 can remember all the times Marth would call down to my bedroom in the basement that it was time to get up for school. I would give one of my normal responses that I had a headache, or was sick, or too tired to go to school. Once she said I was going to fail if I didn't get to school. I responded that I probably had already failed. She said "then you might as well go back to sleep". When you hear the stories of parental relationships among your friends, we never knew how lucky we were. I don't know if there is a heaven, but if there is, Marth is in it.

Peter Sharpe


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.

Polly, Martha, my Aunt Helen and myself had a marvelous Caribbean cruise. It was my aunts and my first. It may have been around 1980 as it was the first time I met Martha I think. We sure did our share of laughing and playing the odd trick on each other. Happy memories!

Mary Bulloch


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.

One of the last times at that house, it was my birthday and I had not told Marth because she would have been embarrassed about forgetting.
Someone wandered by as I was sitting next to her and wished me Happy Birthday. She looked at me in surprise; I confirmed it was mu birthday and she asked how old I was. I replied - 55. She looked shocked and asked "My God, how old am I? " . I replied " 86 ". She thought for a second and responded "No wonder I'm so damned tired! "

I took great pains to always include corn in the many meals at that house -whether corn on the cob, corn bread, or just canned corn- depending on what was available. Every time she would comment " this is the best corn I've ever tasted." I recall telling John that proudly on several occasions. And so it happened that one day, John called me. He was laughing so hard, he could barely talk. After a few minutes, he finally calmed down enough to tell me that he had just talked to Marth and asked her how dinner was at my house the previous evening. She replied " It was fine, but you know, you have to eat what they give you." Made his day.

My favorite incident in the memory unit, where she spent the last part of her life, occurred in the outdoor seating area, which of course is fenced off from the other outside area for the use of the residents in assisted living, to prevent anyone in the memory unit from wandering off. Marth and I were having lunch and the dogs were wandering around.
There was a group sitting on the other side of the fence and as we were eating, Marth would discretely look over at them and then back at me with that funny look she had when observing something strange or unusual. Finally, after this happened about four times, I mover closer to her and whispered " what's wrong?' She replied " those people are locked up so they can't get out!" I pissed my pants.

Paul


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