Monday, February 10, 2014

A Solemn Opportunity

I have an extra special opportunity this week to make a trip across the country to see/meet lots of William's descendants and, if I'm lucky, do a few hours of on site research.  That's right!  On Friday I'm flying to Philly, the City of Brotherly Love!  I have hopes to visit the Philadelphia City Archives and at least one other repository and one other historical site.  Unfortunately, since it's been a pretty extreme winter and everything is covered in ice and snow, I won't be able to visit Mount Moriah cemetery.  

But the really sobering part of this is the reason for my visit.  William's family (and mine) has lost an incredible woman, who was loving and generous with a great sense of humor.  My Aunt Doris May McGrath McDaniel (born 10 Feb 1930 in Philadelphia, PA) passed away last week after having suffered from Alzheimer's Disease for some time.  

I will be flying up to represent and show the support of my grandfather (and her brother) Robert's, part of the family.  My grandmother Bea Hill McGrath has said that Doris was a crucial teacher and friend for her when she was 1st married to my Paw Paw and was living in Philadelphia where she knew no one.  Aunt Doris helped "raise her" as a newly married young woman.

My mother, who was born in Chester, PA, near Philadelphia remembers her being my PawPaw's (her dad) closest sister and recalls numerous fun visits to Aunt Doris's house when she was young.

I myself only remember meeting Aunt Doris twice since I was old enough to remember, but each stuck in my head and heart in a profound way.  The first was a trip to Philadelphia one 4th of July when I was quite young.  I remember staying at my Aunt Doris's house, eating food that I considered quite bland (me coming from Cajun country & all), barbecuing in the backyard, chasing lightning bugs and catching them in jars, watching the neighborhood 4th of July parade with horses & bagpipes, swinging and talking with newly discovered cousins on the front porch, and piling cut hydrangeas in a huge mound on the rocking chair out there.  Some of these memories might be blurred or faulty as I've idealized them in my mind over time, but it's a memory that is beautiful to me and that I relate directly to my Aunt Doris.

The other memory is more recent and less detailed, but an even more special connection in some ways.  On May 28, 2005 my Uncle Ed and Aunt Doris traveled over 1400 miles to come to my wedding... which was the exact same day as their 54th wedding anniversary!  What a beautiful example they have set for my husband and I.  And what a beautiful sacrifice for them to come share THEIR day by celebrating OUR day.  That's something I will never forget.

My PawPaw, Uncle Ernie, Aunt Doris, and Uncle Arthur at my wedding.

I feel blessed to have been a part of her family, however distant, and I'm honored to be able to celebrate her life with many cousins this weekend in her hometown.

Here is the link to her obituary.  If any of our family is reading this, I would love any comments, corrections, additions, or feedback.  Feel free to post a fact, special memory, or anything else about Doris McDaniel in the comments below.  As always all comments are welcomed and appreciated.