Doris Shaffer Gray 1920-2008
I believe I was told this was an engagement photo. Doris Gray was my mother in law for almost 43 years. We had a good relationship….as I told one of her grandchildren at her funeral….maybe better then the ones she had with her four children because she really had no “say” over me and seemed to accept me as I came into the family. I know I am still wanting to continue mothering my two grown kids so maybe it never stops
Doris and I had both earned degrees in art from the same school, though not in the same year, of course. We could have one on one visits and talk about a printmaking process or teaching methods. Though we did discuss her son, my husband, he was not often the main topic of our discussions. She was a public school teacher in both English and art and I have been know to teach a little art to kids. We had a few topics that we could talk about.
A divorce in the mid 50’s left her a single mother when single mothers were not nearly so acceptable as they are today. She had four children to raise and educate. I know that feeding them was enough work but she also had to be the disciplinarian and the one to instill the values they have all passed down to their own children. I have often marveled at her strength to do it. I would have been a royal b–ch most of the time from the stress of it all. Though my husband went to live with his father when he was 16, he has much to thank his mother for. First of all he is a wonderful writer and has a command of English that enables him to use it like it use my paint brushes. Secondly, he was attracted to me, an artist, and, so, I am sure that artists were people he admired.
My first baby was her first grandchild and Doris really contributed to the celebration of adding this child to the family. She wanted the grands to call her “Mimi” and there were 9 more to follow the first who loved their “Mimi”.
Her last years were not her best. Cancer was a tough fight but, she recovered. Age kept her in a bed most of the time. A retirement center in her community was home to her for her last years and she made the closest of friends there. They were the kind of friends who could take the measure of person rather astutely and chose Doris Gray to admire and love.
My husband was taking his turn at her bedside when she died at 2:30 AM on Oct 15, 2008
Doris will be missed because she may have held the family together. After the death of my father’s mother, I never saw much of my twenty two cousins again. We just drifted apart. I hope these ten stay connected. Family is important. Family usually sticks with you no matter what you do.