• Editor, Remembering Martha

Peer Tribute from Sandy MacDonald

Updated: Jun 11, 2021

New York City-based writer specializing in theatre, travel, arts, books, and design.

We all deserve friends we can feel comfortable calling in the middle of the night, should an emotional crisis arise. For a while, Martha was that friend for me, and it was mutual. Neither of us abused the privilege: I think we each only used it once, if that. But the important thing is that we had it. In a sense, I still have it. When necessary, I can call upon Martha’s strength, her unflagging sense of humor and generous spirit.

We met in 1995, on a press tour of Vermont inns. She endeared herself to me immediately when she whispered, “If I have to look at another tussy mussy, I will throw up.” Fellow rebels, resisting the relentlessly picturesque! Martha did not limit her critique to décor. “Those glasses make you look old,” she said of my drugstore readers. She was right. I upgraded, grateful. She invited us to stay in her Upper West Side apartment when visiting New York. Soon she was making room for my then teenaged daughter and assorted friends. Martha’s unspoken code for treating acquaintances – old or new, close or casual – seemed to be, “What can I do to make your life better?” In 2000, when Laurel was in college, Martha managed to include her on a luxurious, all-expenses-paid research trip to Italy, where Laurel served as nanny for the infant Mary.

My most recent vision of Mary was in 2009. Martha and I left her in Laurel’s company, peacefully reading a book at a raucous restaurant, as we headed off to see a Broadway play starring a friend of Martha's from high school. Of course she insisted on taking me backstage afterward. Martha was not only generous to her friends, she was generous with them – celebrating and sharing them. Both Laurel and I remember being impressed at the time by Mary’s adaptability. “Oh, Martha has done well,” we thought. She truly did.

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