Sunday, April 03, 2005

MCS remembrances

I'm posting a memorial I wrote for the funeral service. I wrote it in a hurry, so please forgive any mistakes. The pastor read it interestingly and authoritatively. The day of the funeral went as well as could be expected. As our neighbor Jim told me at the viewing, this will close a chapter of my life.

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Marian remembrances

Everyone speaking to me about my mother after her death this week has emphasized the fact that she carried herself with class. She had time for everyone, was involved in many things in her community, and made a great partner to her husband John, my father. She taught me to respect everyone, and to earn what I needed in life. She never let anyone or any illness stop her from doing what she wanted to do and how she wanted to do it. Here is a brief overview of her life that I would like to share with you:

Marian as a young girl grew up in Perth Amboy and went to high school there. Without a normal nuclear family life, she was raised by a host of grandparents, aunts and uncles. She came to appreciate nature and farm life during her long summers at the family farm, an appreciation she passed along to me. As a young teen, she came down with rheumatic fever, which damaged her heart, but she overcame that and eventually was able to participate in normal activities.

Marian had the great opportunity to attend college at a time when not many women did so. Not only did she graduate from what is now Rutgers, but did well enough to be invited to attend Yale school of nursing. Her class was rushed through because of WWII, but she still found time to date many of the doctors and other handsome denizens of New Haven in the early 1940’s.

Upon her graduation, the war ended, so she traveled across country with a nurse friend. Upon reaching San Francisco they then sailed to Hawaii to work as nurses for a few years. She always said that a good education had allowed her to travel and work at what she most desired. She soon felt the Eastern pull of family, however, and moved back to work in New York, spending time in her aunt’s house in Perth Amboy. There she met my father, they got married, and she settled down to a life of homemaking and nursing for Red Cross blood banks.

While pregnant, Marian came down with her worst bout of Crohn’s disease, and suffered through several major operations. Her delivery was successful (Here I am!) but she had to have aunts, uncles and nurses assist her in my first years. Whenever she was hospitalized, a network of relatives and friends came together to support her and our family. This remained true until her last days, and allowed her to stay independent in her own home until the end. The only sticking point was she would always complain about her care, sniffing that it was never up to the original Yale nursing standards!

When Marian recovered, we moved out from Perth Amboy and she became deeply involved in the greater Metuchen community. She went to church, joined the BIL, the Historical society, the Quiet Hour, and the Garden Club. She also remained active with Kearny cottage and the Proprietary house. She would research the history of a town, a neighborhood, or a site, and take stunning slide photos to present in her famous lectures. As I grew up, I assisted her with the picture taking using my camera. Her drive to do this was amazing. Even in her last few years, she managed to get herself stuck when sneaking into the basement of the oldest house in Perth Amboy to take photos, and later couldn’t understand why the contractor would not let her into the oldest house in Metuchen before it was demolished.

Marian also served as the family genealogist, researching back hundreds of years of our German heritage and taking photos of long lost cousins during reunion activities. Between her organizations and her extended family, she held a sense of place and community no one else I know will match.

I know Marian has touched many of your lives and I know we are all deeply sorry she is no longer with us.

1 comment:

Steve Silberman said...

I'll light a candle for Marian tonight, Doug, and my love and condolences to you and yours and anyone touched by your mother's life. Her story is inspiring -- thanks for telling it.