Say hello to Martha


Come this July, The Wife and I will have been married for twenty-four happy years, and I for one would like to keep it that way.

Having stated that, I have to say this: Martha is not The Wife. And she’s not some new kid who lived on that old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo. She is, however, ever present in our lives and, on occasion, has had a lot to say.

When she drops in, our two granddaughters simply love her and think she’s funny. To be honest, The Wife and I think she can be a little bit annoying, but you be the judge, Dear Reader. Fair warning: ignore what Martha has to say at your own peril.

Ever met that person who sees all, knows all, and doesn’t hesitate to speak their mind?” Say hello to Martha, the nagging wife of a henpecked husband. Our granddaughters, The Wife and I first met Martha while returning from a trip just north of downtown Atlanta about four years ago.

After spending the day at Fernbank Museum viewing the new dinosaur exhibit, we were trying to get back home but quickly found ourselves caught in the typical downtown connector traffic jam. After spending twenty minutes not moving and with cars jammed packed is far ahead as we could see, it was my bright idea to jump off the highway parking lot and take the back roads in hopes of finding a less traveled route home.

We did find something, but it certainly wasn’t a faster way home. We had picked the very day and time of a huge soccer event at our local stadium – the one located right in the middle of our new way home. Stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic with no alternative route available, we sat for over an hour. And that’s when we met Martha for the first time as we slowly inched up to a traffic light. And boy, did she have a lot to say that first day!

Out of nowhere, she climbed into the car and started talking in her now all too familiar shrill, nagging voice, “I told you not to take the back roads. We should’ve stayed on the highway. We would’ve been home hours ago.”

At first our granddaughters didn’t realize they were witnessing the addition of a new person to our family. They exchanged a curious, but worried look. I glanced over at the wife and smiled. She looked back, stifled a laugh, and just shook her head. She knew what was happening. The very opinionated Martha had arrived and was here to stay.

Unlike the helpful voice in my head (that I call Fred) who warns me of any bad decisions that I’m about to make before I make them, Martha is quite different. She never warns me of anything but is always there ready with a withering comment when things go wrong.

Drive too fast and get a ticket? Martha responds, “I told you to slow down!” Buy stock and the stock goes to zero? Martha is there with, “Told you not to buy it.” Sell the stock too soon and then a month later it doubles in price? You’ll hear Martha’s nagging voice again. “Now, wasn’t that a dumb thing to do?”

There’s one thing good about Martha, she’s never there when I’m by myself. She only comes out when I’m with the wife or granddaughters. Recently, they have been asking what happened to her. “Did she die and go away forever?”

For some strange reason, everyone loves Martha. (And, if I was truthful, I’m somewhat of a fan also. She’s one of the best characters I’ve made up in years.)

I smiled and replied, “Nope. She hasn’t died. Martha doesn’t come out all the time, only when least expected. What she has to say has more impact that way.”

Just like Fred in my head, we can’t talk about Martha for this entire story. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my made-up characters have had somewhat of an unexpected influence on one of our granddaughters. Sweet Caroline was carrying on a conversation in her room the other day. After thirty minutes or so, I went in, but to my surprise she was alone. Somewhat concerned I asked, “Sweetheart, who were you talking to?”

She just smiled, “I was talking to Jerry.”

I took another look around her room that was empty of everything except for toys and our sweet little redhead.


“Jerry’s the voice in my head. You know, Papa. You have Martha and Fred — I have Jerry.”

Warning for all the young parents out there: Be careful what you say around your children. They will pick up and mimic everything you say … especially if you have somebody like Fred or Martha living in your head.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]