“Scratch your ass and get glad!” That’s what Mim would say if she saw all of you sitting around mourning her death. There’s no time for sadness when it’s “such a glorious day!”
So many of us had an incredible connection with Martha Jane West, better known as “Mim” by her loved ones. She was this burst of energy that ignited the mo
od wherever she went. She was your true Ohioan. The kind of lady who will talk to anyone, always had a smile to give and always, ALWAYS had some spitfire comment to dish right back at you. The kind of lady who could pretty much tell you “tough shit and hard cheese” in a way that made you feel like it might actually be a compliment … Her laughter was contagious and her spirit was infectious.
She was the best at giving advice and she could make you feel so important as her blue eyes lit up when you told her good news.
That was her signature phrase.
But she was also the scariest human being in existence. Her grandchildren, and children for that matter, weren’t scared of the boogie man … oh no way … the scorn of Mim was far worse than any kind of monster.
Those blue eyes, as much as they lit up about something wonderful, could turn into these bullets that pierced your soul. Don’t even THINK of interrupting when the adults were having a conversation because she would growl in the scariest of growls, “Don’t interrupt!” Teeth clenched, face stern and totally serious …”Children should be seen and not heard,” after all.
We have so many delightful memories with our Mim, mother and friend. For me, her grand daughter, she started our tradition of eating pudding cups in bed every time I spent the night with her … and of course, with it, she passed down the genetic sweet tooth I so willingly inherited, along with a good percentage of the family.
For others, her house on Coral Court in Merritt Island will forever mark an era of fun. From fishing to sing-alongs with the organ, we all have had countless good times.
She grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where many of her early memories, and dear friendships, were made. She and her husband Ralph Ray raised their three children — Judy, Justina and Ralph “Bo”— on Chase Road in Worthington, Ohio. Later, she relocated to Florida in the 1960s. There, she married Bob West, who was part of the space program at Kennedy Space Center. When she wasn’t laughing, dancing, singing or hosting Sunday dinners, she was updating herself on current events and tuning into some of her favorite political broadcasts. She certainly had a lot of opinions when it came to politics and she loved to hear every viewpoint, even if it didn’t match up with her own. She taught us how to listen and quietly disagree.
After all, “It’s better to be silent and thought a fool, then open your mouth and remove all doubt,” she would say.
But as we sit and reflect back on Martha and the extraordinary life she has lead, we have to accept that people don’t live forever. Sometimes, it turns out, we reach a point in life when we are ready to go. Everyone else might not be ready for us to depart into a better place, but we are down for the count.
We all know and acknowledge that she has lived her life to the very fullest. She lived what she believed. She has loved, lost, traveled, worked hard, played hard, made friends, made a family, made money, lost money… she’s done it all. She’s one of the strongest women we have ever met, especially considering the challenges she has faced nearly all of her life. She has fulfilled her destiny. She danced through life, and now we can all rejoice as she dances through heaven.
Martha has left her mark on this planet. Both physically and spiritually, her legacy will live on through her three children, eight grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren (with a great great grandchild on the way!). Life gave our Mim challenges, but she’d be the first to tell you just to add a little sugar (and vodka) and turn that load of fruit into a glass of hard lemonade.
From beauty queen to loving mother, we can all cherish the life Martha has lived. She is a life to be celebrated and her love can be felt forever in all of our hearts.
And if you start feeling down again, just remember — “It’s all right up here in your ass,” she’d say, pointing to her head.
Party on, Mimmy. Party on.
Please feel free to share your memories with Martha below. She had many, many loved ones, each with their own unique stories.