One of her granddaughters said she was classy and sassy. I would agree with that. Martha Orcutt was one of those older ladies who could grace a good Easter hat, and the pictures prove it. She was also feisty and funny. Many times when I got up to leave after a visit I would tell her to be good. She would shoot back with a frown, “That’s no fun!” One of my favorite Martha-isms happened nearly two years ago, when she was a mere 92. She was grieving about the times we are living in now and the way young people seem to care more about their gadgets than anything else. She told me that the Lord must be coming back soon.
When I asked why she said, “Because of all this technology, this Tweeter and this My Face.” I must have cracked a grin at that because she laughed and said, “I don’t know, Mark, I don’t know any of this stuff.”
She didn’t. But she knew Jesus, and loved to talk about Him. Until her short-term memory began to fail her, she would tell me every week about what she had read that morning in the Bible. Or the devotional book that she loved. Inevitably she would ask about my family, and tell me she was praying for us. Then we would talk about others she was praying for, and the list was long. She prayed for friends who live at Twin Lakes. She prayed for her neighbors. She prayed for her granddaughter Sarah and her husband Josh, as they and their two little ones serve the Lord in Nepal. She prayed for all of her children and her 22 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She prayed for her beloved Moravian church, and wished she could be with them in worship.
At some point in every conversation, Martha would lean back her gray head, close her eyes, and say, “Oh, the Lord’s been so good to me.” Often she would sing one of her favorite Moravian hymns, or her favorite chorus, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” It was not just a song or a Bible verse to Martha. It was a lifestyle.
I always called and yelled in the phone to her that I was on my way for a visit. By the time I made the five-minute drive from the church building, she was seated in the parlor dressed in something green or yellow or red. I often commented on how pretty she looked, and she would take off her glasses and tell me that I needed them more than she did.
The last visit I made was the day before I left for a mission trip to South Africa. She was tired, and struggling mightily to keep her thoughts together. When I asked her if she wanted to pray for anyone, she kept saying that she was thinking of somebody but couldn’t remember who it was. But when I asked her if she had sung to Jesus that morning, she hesitated for a moment, closed her eyes, and then sang in a strong, clear voice: “Be not dismayed what ‘ere betide, God will take care of you.” And He did.
That was the last time I saw Martha. The next Tuesday, I was on another continent, and she was preparing to be in the presence of the Lord. I will miss her; she was one of a kind.
But I will see Martha’s face and hear her song again.