I went by myself to Martha Talbott’s funeral yesterday. Nyel had an obligation elsewhere but, as is always true in our small community, being unescorted did not mean I was alone. In fact, I was surprised at how many mutual friends and acquaintances Martha and I had.
George and Martha moved to ‘Greater Oysterville’ twenty-three years ago. That’s one of the things I learned yesterday. I tried to remember when I first became acquainted with them. Ironically, it may have been in 1998 when I, being secretary/treasurer of the Oysterville Cemetery Association, sold them several cemetery lots.
But, I imagine I had known who they were and had been nodding and smiling and saying ‘hello’ long before that – especially at the post office. Sooner or later, all of us who get our mail at the tiny Oysterville Post Office get to know one another at least on a talk-about-the-weather basis. Too, I’m sure we saw them at Vespers now and then, especially when our former postmaster Casey Killingsworth and his family were the featured musicians. Or, perhaps, when the service was conducted by our friend-and-almost-relative, Father Tom, or by the priest from St. Mary’s.
Mostly, though, we knew Martha as a faithful attendee at our house concerts – she and George, always smiling, always together, always enjoying whatever was going on. I can’t think how it happened that we first invited them. Maybe George remembers. Over the years, they became ‘regulars,’ often sitting on the blue velvet couch in the living room and always bringing a wonderful addition for our potluck supper.
There was something about Martha’s twinkling eyes and gentle smile that always made me think she would be happiest with a small child nestled in her lap, so it didn’t surprise me to learn that she and George have seven children, twenty-six grandchildren, and fourteen great-grandchildren! Luckily for us, we’ve become acquainted over the years with daughter Jenny and son-in-law Scott and, more recently, with son Charlie. We hope that these friendships deepen and expand as time passes, for that’s yet another blessing of living in a small community.
These were some of the thoughts that flashed through my mind yesterday. Plus my delight at the photograph of Martha on the front of the memorial folder. I had no idea that she had been a nurse! Which made me wonder about all the other things I didn’t know about Marta.
I thought about that wonderful old Joan Baez song on her Diamonds and Rust album –“Hello in There.” I wish I had known Martha better. I’m grateful, though, that our paths crossed and that I knew her as well as I did.