In an earlier post, we celebrated the relationship between Michelle and Barack Obama. Now, in honor of his grandmother's passing, we want to honor his relationship with Madelyn Dunham and to celebrate the profound effect it had on his life and the lives of all of us.
Because of being raised primarily by his grandmother, Gay had a strong reaction to the moment: "Like many of you, I felt waves of sadness when I heard of the death of Barack's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. I was in my car, but the feelings came so strongly that I pulled over to the side of the road to honor it until it passed. As the sadness resonated through me, I could feel that it was not only for Obama's grandmother but also for Rebecca Delle Canaday, my own grandmother, whose loving presence in my early life shaped every moment thereafter."
"As I sat in my car, deep in reflection while cars whizzed by on the busy street, I realized something I hadn't seen before: One of the reasons I liked Obama from the start was the quality of the love he expressed for his grandparents. I made a point of learning about his relationship with them, partly because his early life so closely resembled my own. I was born at a difficult time in my mother's life, and when hardship required her to relinquish her care of me, my grandmother was there to take me in. I can't imagine what energy source she drew on, at age 63, to care for a newborn baby, but I know that during my first seven years, the period of time she cared for me, I never once heard her complain of being tired."
"As I gave attention to the sensations inside me, I felt the sadness thaw and melt into gratitude. Of all the gifts I received from my grandmother, there's one gift that affects me as deeply today as it did 60 years ago. Wherever Barack is today and whatever he is feeling, I bet he also is feeling grateful for the same gift. It was the gift of love, a gift that continues to open and flower throughout life. Because of his grandmother's love, Barack Obama could attract as remarkable a woman as Michelle into his life. Because of my grandmother's love, I was able to attract as remarkable a woman as Kathlyn into my life. Because of his grandmother's love, Barack could run a positive campaign that inspired hope in the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Because of his grandmother's love, he could show us something we very much needed to see again: Proof that love could overcome fear, not by fighting against it but by embracing it in the wholeness of love, and by so doing liberate the exploration of a new galaxy of creative possibilities in the world."
Wherever Barack is in the world today, he knows that he would not be there without his grandmother's presence in his life. Wherever he is in the world today, millions of us join him in feeling the deep sadness of loss, the warm glow of gratitude for Madelyn Dunham, and the joyful celebration of a life that gently and with no fanfare would change the world.
Click here for a slideshow, photos and video of Barack Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham.
Click here to see Barack Obama speak about the "bittersweet" death of his grandmother at a rally in North Carolina, Monday night.