Column: Woman known for generosity, stubbornness


I did not know Martha Ann Godby. But, after listening to family and friends’ recollections at her funeral last week, I feel as though I did.

The thing about Martha, they all agreed, was her incredible generosity.

“And her stubbornness.”

Everyone said the same thing. She was lovingly generous to a fault. And once she had made up her mind about something, she stubbornly held to it.

She doted on her grandchildren and spent as much time with them as possible. Her kitchen was always well stocked with iced oatmeal cookies, and the closet was always filled with toys and games. She apparently had stockpiles of other generous acts too, for anyone – friend or stranger – that showed up with a need. Any need.

Her son-in-law, Rob Mountcastle, added a couple stories that vividly illustrated both traits. The stubborn trait came to light when he stopped by to see her one day and noticed she was carrying a jar lid filled with water.

“What’s the water for?” he asked.

“For the cricket,” she said nonchalantly.

“What cricket?”

“The thirsty one in the family room.”

Martha then led him to the family room and bade him listen. There was a loud chirp.

“The cricket,” she said. A smoke detector battery in need of replacement, he thought. He told her.

“It’s a cricket,” she insisted. More chirps ensued. On impulse he timed them with his watch. Then he accurately predicted exactly when the next chirps would come.

“Her eyes got as big as saucers,” Rob said. “She no longer insisted it was a cricket, but she still left the water.”

Her generosity had everything to do with Rob’s job as a postal employee.

“She wanted to support the company that I worked for,” he said. “Her way of doing that was to fill the postage-paid reply envelopes from all the junk mail she received with anything and everything she could lay her hands on, and mail them. She knew the mailers at the other end would have to pay the postage, and as far as she was concerned, that helped pay my salary.”

There’s another dimension to Martha Godby’s generosity that springs from her daughter Jannell, Rob’s wife. She seems to have inherited her mother’s spirit of selfless giving.

A number of years ago a man Jannell had never met was dying of kidney failure. Without hesitation, she volunteered to donate one of her kidneys.

Miraculously, she was a perfect match. She met the man for the first time in the recovery room after the surgery.

Like I said, I never knew the woman, but obviously, her spirit lives on.


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