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  • Writer's picture Leslie Lewis (she/her)

Rest in Peace, Mrs. Marian Robinson

The mother of our Forever First Lady, Mrs. Marian Robinson made her transition to eternal life on May 31, 2024.

I had never met her, but if I had been able to, I wanted to ask her just how she did it, how she raised such a beautiful family. I wish that she had written a book of her own, but from the stories in Mrs. Michelle Obama's first book, Becoming, it sounds like that wasn't her mother's style.

There's a lot to glean from Becoming, though. Here's a story that moved me to tears the first time I read it, that shows the character of this woman, this family.

From page 59-60 of Becoming by Michelle Obama.

My parents never once spoke of the stress of having to pay for college, but I knew enough to appreciate that it was there. When my [high school] French teacher announced that she'd be leading an optional class trip to Paris over one of our breaks for those who could come up with the money to do it, I didn't even bother to raise the issue at home. [...] I had a loving and orderly home, bus fare to get me across town to school, and a hot meal to come home to at night. Beyond that, I wasn't going to ask my parents for a thing.

Yet one evening my parents sat me down, looking puzzled. My mom had learned about the France trip [from another mom].

"Why didn't you tell us?" she said.

"Because it's too much money."

"That's actually not for you to decide, Miche," my dad said gently, almost offended. "And how are we supposed to decide, if we don't even know about it?"

I looked at them both, unsure of what to say. My mother glanced at me, her eyes soft. My father had changed out of his work uniform and into a clean white shirt. They were in their early forties then, married nearly twenty years. Neither one of them had ever vacationed in Europe. They never took beach trips or went out to dinner. They didn't own a house. We were their investment, me and Craig. Everything went into us.

A few months later, I boarded a flight to Paris with my teacher and a dozen or so of my classmates. [...] As the plane pulled away from its gate that day, I looked out my window and back at the airport, knowing that my mother stood somewhere behind its black-glass windows, dressed in her winter coat and waving me on. I remember the jet engines firing, shockingly loud. And then we were rattling down the runway and beginning to tilt upward as the acceleration seized my chest and pressed me backward into my seat for that strange, in-between half moment that comes before finally you feel lifted.

May the memory of Mrs. Marian Robinson forever be a blessing.

Marian Robinson with her husband Fraser and her son Craig, protectively holding on to his sister Michelle CREDIT: Alamy

Marian Robinson, holding the hand of her son-in-law, Barack Obama, on Election Night in 2008

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