Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Sister Martha 8/8/38 - 12/5/09

Before Martha Cotter Kirkland was a writer, she was a singer with a voice so beautiful that when she gave her first classical recital, her self-centered teenage brother could not hide from public view his tears of awe and pride. The first time he, I, ever realized she could sing in any special way, she performed in her high school talent show: the Edith Piaf international smash hit La Vie En Rose. Martha’s beret was black. Her French was nasal where French is nasal, throaty where French is throaty.

Martha was the only one of my sisters who ever attended the same school at the same time I did. She was in the seventh grade, when I was in the first grade. We walked to and from school together. Many years later, I became the first one in my family to graduate from college, but Martha, married and the mother of two school-age daughters, became the second.

When Martha was only 16 years old, she worked part-time as a telephone operator for Southern Bell. She took weekend and holiday shifts split 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. till 10 p.m. She did her school work and took naps in the operator’s lounge between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. She rode the bus home late at night. She paid her brother’s little league baseball fee, and when he was a self-centered teenager, she gave him money to take girls on dates to movies and to the Varsity.

Martha and two of her friends sang the McGuire Sisters songs Sincerely and Sugartime on a local TV show. In private, the trio called themselves “The Dripettes.” Martha entered the Miss Atlanta contest. Why not? She was beautiful and talented.

Martha telephoned me one day and informed me she might do some writing. What was the best advice I had ever received? Put your butt in a chair and your fingers on the keyboard, I replied. According to the website Fantastic Fiction, Martha wrote 26 books, including romance, historical, and mystery novels.

She was devoted to our mother. Martha died in her sleep at age 71.


Sarah in Switzerland said...

Dear Bill,

I’m very sorry to learn that your sister passed away yesterday.

You wrote a lovely tribute to her directly from your heart and it was deeply moving to read.

We share Dec. 5th 2009 with you, as Alain’s uncle, Vittorio, aged just 50 years and 2 months, also passed away yesterday after a 2 year long struggle with cancer. Alain took a train to Italy this morning at 7 a.m. and will arrive at 5:30 p.m. for tomorrow’s funeral in Ascoli Piceno at the Cathedral of Saint Emilio. When lighting a candle tonight I’ll make sure to light it in honour of both Vittorio and your sister, that their soul journeys may be peaceful and that those left behind will feel comforted in their grief.

Thinking of you.



wayne said...

What a marvelous tribute, Bill! I wish that I could have known Martha as an adult. Now that I see her picture, I DO remember her at Grady in the chorus. Thanks for sharing this lovely piece and, of course, Martha.



ardith said...

Dear Bill,
Please accept my sincere condolences on your loss. How pleased she would be
at your heart-warming tribute to her, a sister and a friend.
I didn't know you had a sibling who was a writer, but I'm not surprised. I always
admired your way with words and still do.
My sympathy to you, Annette and the extended family.

Love, Ardith

faye said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. May God give you a peace that surpasses all understanding. Call me if you need anything.
Faye Ridling

eva said...

What a fabulous life she lived and lucky to have a brother who appreciated her.

Much love


Yvonne said...

I am so sorry you lost your sister. What a wonderful person she must have been! Please accept our condolences.

ralph said...


Thank-you for this lovely tribute to your dear sister. There are so many like her who make a wonderful influence in this world.
Suzie and I are so sorry for this loss.

Blessings and peace, Ralph

Tina said...

What a great tribute to your sister. So sorry about your loss.

LaMerle said...

Bill, I am glad to know that Martha's passing was peaceful for her. Ouida's was so painful and I don't remember about Jackie's if I was ever told. Once while Max was still in Korea, Martha and Jack spent some time with me in Prattville . They both got homesick and Jackie went home{which I would have done the same} I did not know that Martha was homesick because she didn't say so. I could not be satisfied anywhere without Max so when I took a notion, I would pack up and go where the mood took me. I mentioned to Martha that I was thinking about going to Atlanta and you would have thought I had promised her the moon! That's when I found out how homesick she was but she was not going to leave me until she had to go backto school. Also that's when Kathy began to love Martha. Martha took up so much time with her even played in the sand box with her. Martha was always my favorite niece. Max brought Martha and Jackie a billfold back frim Korea. Martha still had hers on Mama's 80 th birthday twenty some odd years later.LaMerle

Chuck said...

Uncle Bill,
I'm sorry that I can't be there. Martha was a special person, and I'm glad she was in our lives.


sunny said...

Deepest sympathies to you - what a wonderful, special lady she was. Sunny

Marilyn Harris said...

Dear Bill, you are so right that Martha was a remarkable, generous, and talented woman. She was my friend for 55 years. I will miss her too. Marilyn Harris


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