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National Grandparents Day Founder Marian McQuade

National Grandparents Day falls on September 13 this year. Last September I wrote my first “Go-To Grandma” column in Parenting on the Peninsula about National Grandparents Day founder, Marian McQuade.  When the paper was published, I called McQuade’s daughter, DJ McQuade, to let her know about my article. DJ told me her mother passed away on September 26, 2008 at the age of 91, surrounded by 13 of her 15 children, 18 of her 43 grandchildren and many of her 15 great-grandchildren.

“We gave Mom a good send off,” DJ told me. “The minister was there and we all sang hymns.”

Thirty years ago Marian McQuade inspired 43 governors across the nation to set aside a day to honor grandparents. With that momentum, President Jimmy Carter signed legislation in 1978 proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. What a legacy she left—not only to her own family but also to millions of families around the country who celebrate the important role that grandparents have in our society. She was a visionary whose tireless efforts focused attention on creating bonds between the generations.

Four days before McQuade died, DJ said she was sitting alone beside her mother when a moonbeam shone through the window and illuminated her mother’s face. “She already looked like an angel,” DJ said. “Her face was radiant and she looked so beautiful.” She whispered to her mother: “Aren’t you glad you get to go to heaven?” and her mother smiled. Then DJ put headsets on her mother so she could listen to Sarah McLachlan’s “Arms of an Angel.”

DJ explained “having that experience leaves me with a lot less grief.”

I was deeply touched and honored that she shared her beautiful story with me. What a blessing for all of them to witness such a sweet passing for a woman so devoted to her family.

DJ said that to honor her mother’s work on behalf of the elderly, her family requested that grandparents pass on family histories to their grandchildren, visit with the elderly, or volunteer at a local nursing home. As Marian always said, “Make every day Grandparents Day.”

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