Slowly but surely https://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/myday/browsebyyear.cfm>the Eleanor Roosevelt My Day Columns have been transcribed and put on line. Frankly, I’m fascinated by them, and today – after a struggle to access the pages – finally was able to read a few entries.
She wrote from New York on September 6th,
“One never realizes beforehand what a busy day really means! My plane was late in leaving Washington yesterday morning for Pittsburgh, Pa., so I was a little late all through the day. It made me feel like a small dog chasing his tail”
Just days from the 6th, her mother-in-law dies, and she writes a series of entries that carefully tell us about Mrs. Roosevelt senior’s personality in a most tactful manner. Anyone who has read the Roosevelt histories knows that the elder Mrs. Roosevelt had a strong and determined personality. She’s the mother-in-law who bought two town houses in New York. She then cut doors between each floor so she had full access at all times to her son’s home.
My mother would never have stood for that. She too had a very strong personality. I had spent the first 18 years of my life unable to please this intense person, and it was with great joy I joined the army. …and moved far, far away. Eleanor Roosevelt’s daughter Anna never felt that she could please her mother either. In her father’s later years there developed an intense rivalry between mother and daughter. Anna was the one bringing bad tidings to her mother about FDR, and that worsened the drama between the two ladies.
My mother changed her nick-name to Maggie after she married her last husband Bob. Like Anna, she reinvented herself several times always fiercely doing life her own way right to the very end. On the last day, she was in the hospital with renal failure. When she asked for ice cream, she was told she couldn’t have it.
“What does it matter now,” she told them crisply. She ate the ice cream, laid down for a nap, and died.
Only years later, feeling somewhat as Anna might feel, I grew resentful against a mother taking a daughter’s nick name…..for we were both Maggies. I got over it quickly, but sometimes I remember.