Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Madelyn Dunham

Barack Obama's Grandmother died Sunday night at age 86. We all know that his grandparents raised him for several years and were substantial influences in his life.
Barack's sister says of her grandmother that her brother "gets his pragmatism, his levelheadedness, his ability to stay centered in the eye of the storm. His sensible, no-nonsense (side) is inherited from her."

When Obama was young, he and his grandmother toured the United States by Greyhound bus, stopping at the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, Disneyland and Chicago, where Obama would years later settle.
Can you imagine how close a trip like that made them?

"She's the one who taught me about hard work," he said. "She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me."

Madelyn Dunham, who took university classes but never earned a degree, nonetheless rose from a secretarial job at the Bank of Hawaii to become one of the state's first female bank vice presidents.

"Every morning, she woke up at 5 a.m. and changed from the frowsy muumuus she wore around the apartment into a tailored suit and high-heeled pumps," Obama wrote.

After her health took a turn for the worse, her brother said on Oct. 21 that she had already lived long enough to see her "Barry" achieve what she'd wanted for him.

In Charlotte N.C. yesterday, Barack speaks to the crowd about his grandmother.

"No matter what happens tomorrow, I'm going to feel good about how it has turned out because all of you have created this remarkable campaign. She is gone home. And she died peacefully in her sleep, with my sister at her side. And so, there is great joy as well as tears. I'm not going to talk about it too long because it is hard, a little, to talk about.
I want everybody to know though a little bit about her. Her name was Madelyn Dunham. And she was born in Kansas in a small town in 1922. Which means she lived through the Great Depression, she lived through two world wars, she watched her husband go off to war, while she looked after her baby and worked on a bomber assembly line. When her husband came back they benefited from the GI bill, they moved west and eventually ended up in Hawaii.

She was somebody who was a very humble person, a very plainspoken person. She is one of those quiet heroes we have all across America, who are not famous, their names are not in the newspapers, but each and every day they work hard. They look after their families. They sacrifice for their children, and their grandchildren. They aren't seeking the limelight. All they try to do is do the right thing. And in this crowd, there are a lot of quiet heroes like that, people like that, mothers and fathers and grandparents who have worked hard and sacrificed all their lives and the satisfaction that they get is in seeing their children or maybe their grandchildren or their great-grandchildren live a better life than they did. That is what America is about. That is what we are fighting for."

Barack and his grandparents

Stanley Dunham and his grandson. Mr. Dunham died in 1992.

Madelyn Dunham voted for her grandson with an absentee ballot in October. It will be counted.

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