- 99 years old
- Date of birth: Aug 4, 1914
- Place of birth:
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States
- Date of passing: Oct 20, 2013
- Place of passing:
Spring Hill, Florida, United States
|"If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it"– Erma Bombeck.|
I created this memorial as a place for us to remember my grandmother "Mam-Maw". She lived quite a life--99 years, four daughters, several grandchildren, great grandchildren and even a few great-great grandchildren.
Her life was long and she faced many difficulties, but rose above them with wit, style, elegance, grace and an insistence that she wasn't going to let life beat her down.
In 2011, I spent a few days with her while my aunt Barbara, her caregiver, was out of town to celebrate her birthday. I remember just getting her to talk and to tell me stoires again, ones I knew I probably would be hearing for the last time.
She told me of losing her mom at a very young age and how hard it was to lose her. A few years later, after her father re-married, her stepmom hated her and at about age 11, told her "go live with your friends", summarily throwing her out on the streets fend for herself.
Even though she was 97 and dementia was nibbling away at the short term memory, her long term memory was amazing. She said that friends of hers would pool their allowances to get her a hotel room for the night. When they couldn't do that, she'd sleep in the doorway of a garange in a quiet alleyway somewhere.
She said she still remembered who they were and even after so many years, still appreciated their kindness to her.
She eventually came to live with her grandmother, who I sense was her model for how to be a grandmother. I sensed they had the same bond she and I shared. It was she who helped her keep her heart from being hardened, to remember to laugh and to try and be kind whenever you can.
She told me of how she met her husband Frank. In 1932, no one in Harrisburg could find a job, so during the summer she and her friends would cross the Walnut Street bridge to City Island, where they'd head to the cement beach and cool off riverside.
One day, it was really windy. She said "I was wearing this old dress I'd repaired so many times that it's a miracle to have still been presentable. The winds were whipping up from the river and my dress just kept flying up.
So I'm frantically trying to hold my dress down while crossing the bridge. This tall, handsome fella I'd seen before comes up to me, introduces himself and says 'if you hold one side, I'll hold the other and we'll get you across this bridge"
They quickly hit it off swimmingly from what she said and before long, they settled in together, remaining married until the day he passed 36 years later.
She raised four amazing daughters--Jane, Pat, Barbara and Francene--all of whom inspired and amazed me in many ways over my life. While three are gone, I'm blessed that "Auntie Bobo" remains a beloved part of my life.
As the years went by, she became a computer programmer. Fell into it on a bar bet which led to a 22 year career that she really enjoyed. She was a true pioneer. She told me once that the hardest part of the job was having to explain repeatedlhy over the years to many men that she was not in fact taking a job from a man, but rather providing for her own family,
It's a story I share even now as it's an amazing one. It allowed the family to eventually get into a little house that was home for many years after.
As the years went by, grandchildren came along and the nickname "Mam-Maw" stuck. She lived long enough to see more than a few great-great grandkids be born, every one of which delighted her heart.
There are so many more stories I know and could tell--but suffice to say, she was an amanzing, one of a kind person I'll never forget.
Love you Mam-Maw!
"Happy birthday Mam-Maw. I think of you often, still miss you and love telling your stories. Just today, I got to share with a co-worker the story of when you became a programmer.
I still remember you telling me that you were a cocktail waitress, while Pap-Pap was a bartender, at this bar near the old Olmstead Air Force Base. The regulars came in one Friday evening and posed the following question:
"Some of us at this table think a woman's not smart enough for computers, but some of us do. How'd you like to prove them wrong by trying out for a job as a programmer?"
I remember you telling me how you doubted you could do it--even going so far as to tell a fellow co-worker as much. I still giggle when I picture you saying "she told me that if I think I'm smart enough, you most certainly are smart enough to do it, Annie"
Not only did you prove a woman most certainly could do programming, you excelled at the craft for the next nearly 25 years. Whenever I finish that story, they all say what I've always said about you:
You were a pioneer, both in the world of programming and for women in the work place.
You've always been my inspiration and as long as I live, I'll always remember you and cherish my memories with you. You were fierce, fearless, brilliant and funny as hell--and I'm glad that a little bit of that came to me.
Love you lots Mam-Maw!
PS: Thanks for being there in spirit when I got married this year. When I was talking about you and Mom durng the ceremony, I spotted you and she, just briefly, at the back of the audience--wiping tears of joy from your eyes and beaming with happiness."
"Miss you Mom"
"Mom, I love you and miss you very much
"I am sorry I never had a chance to meet your "Mam-Maw", Michael. She seemed such a caring, beautiful soul from all you have told me over the years. I am sorry for your loss."
"I'll never forget her. Truly a life well lived. The stars will shine a little brighter with her amongst them. She inspired, influenced and impacted me in so many ways that to this day, are burned into my heart."
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