Friday, October 24, 2008

Obama's Grandmother Reminds Me of My Own

From today's Chicago Tribune. My thoughts are at the end.

Obama: Gramother 'gravely ill'
by Mark Silva, Chicago Tribune, October 24, 2008

Barack Obama, in Hawaii to see his gravely ill grandmother, said he worried that she will not survive to see Election Day.

Obama left the campaign trail for a day and a half to visit Madelyn Dunham, 85, who helped raise him. His wife, Michelle, is campaigning for the Democratic presidential nominee today. Obama plans to return to the trail in Nevada on Saturday.

"Without going through the details too much, she's gravely ill. We weren't sure and I'm still not sure whether she makes it to Election Day," Obama told ABC's Good Morning America for an interview broadcast this morning.

""We're all praying and we hope she does, but one of the things I want to make sure of is I had a chance to sit down with her and to talk to her,'' Obama said. "She's still alert and she's still got all her faculties. And I want to make sure that I don't miss that opportunity.''

Obama has said he missed a chance to visit his mother just before she died of ovarian cancer at 53 in 1995 -- and didn't want to repeat that mistake. Dunham, whose birthday is Sunday, was resting at her own apartment in Honolulu.

At a rally Thursday in Indianapolis, a minister asked the crowd to pray for Dunham as a "source of comfort, healing and courage." Obama said his grandmother has been inundated with phone calls, e-mails and flowers from strangers.

"And so maybe she is getting a sense of, of long-deserved recognition at -- towards the end of her life," Obama told ABC.

Obama was born in Hawaii. His Kansas-born mother and Kenyan father met as college students there, but Dunham and her husband, Stanley, raised Obama for extended periods when his mother lived overseas.

In his memoir, Dreams from My Father, Obama described his grandfather as something of a dreamer. It was his grandmother who was practical enough to support the family by working her way up in the ranks at a local bank.

Obama has often mentioned "Toot" -- his version of the Hawaiian word "tutu," or grandparent -- as an example of a strong woman succeeding through intelligence and determination. Many of his speeches describe her working on a bomber assembly line during World War II.

"She's really been one of the cornerstones of my life,'' he said. "She's a remarkable woman.''

The Associated Press provided this report.


Portions of the article exactly describe my own grandmother. From the stories I've heard, my grandfather, who died on my mom's 13th birthday, was a dreamer, while my grandmother was the rock of the family and worked her way up the ranks at a local bank and ultimately became a vice president. When my grandfather died in 1961, she became the sole financial support for their two children. My grandmother was intelligent and determined. She was strong and didn't put up with BS. I never heard her complain and she never once felt sorry for herself, although she certainly experienced gender-based discrimination during her 40-year career.

My prayer for Senator Obama is that his grandmother live through November 4th. This remarkable woman deserves to see her grandson win the presidency.

And I'm going to call my Nana tomorrow and tell her how much I love her. She probably won't know me (she rarely does), but that doesn't matter. She's still with us and any day could be her last. Like Senator Obama's Toot, my Nana has been one of the cornerstones of my life.

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