Easter Pansy, my wife’s 97 year old grandmother lives in a nursing home. She lived on her own up until a year ago. Mary and I attribute Easter Pansy’s unique youthful energy to having to care for her live-in Down syndrome son, Davey, for the past 50 years.
Davey became ill and was placed in a nursing home. Without the daily responsibilities of caring for Davey, Easter Pansy’s age caught up to her and she too was placed in a nursing home.
My wife Mary was raised by her dad and stepmother whom she considers her mom. Mary’s birth mother, Easter Pansy’s daughter, has refused to meet me because I am black. She and Mary’s dad divorced when Mary was a toddler.
Over the years, Mary’s birth mother has maintained a minimal relationship with her; an occasional phone call, birthday and Christmas cards. When she heard through the family grapevine that her daughter had married a black man, she said she would never meet or acknowledge me. Mary and I have been married thirty years.
A few years ago, Mary and I flew up to Baltimore from Florida to visit family. Mary wanted to visit her 93 year old grandmother Easter Pansy who at that time was still living alone and caring for her son Davey.
I thought, “This woman is from a era when interracial dating was considered shocking and shameful”. Despite Mary’s disagreement, I told her I would drop her off at her grandmother’s house and to phone me when she was ready to leave.
Mary said Easter Pansy asked, “Where is your husband?” “He dropped me off”, she replied. Mary said Easter Pansy ran outside to the curb to catch me. Easter Pansy told Mary, “You tell that young man he is always welcome in my home and I love him”.
An elderly white woman whom I never met said she loved me. I learned that you can not make assumptions about a person’s feelings regarding race by where they are from or when they were born.
When I finally met Easter Pansy, she gave me a great big hug. She was a radiant, strong and independent woman of character; an awesome human being.
Lloyd Marcus, Proud Unhyphenated American