JANUARY 13, 1941
HYDE PARK, Sunday—The nearer I drew to Hyde Park on Friday evening, the more excited I became, for our children from Seattle, Wash., were arriving in the late afternoon and were to be at the station to meet us.
With my daughter I feel the bond that exists with any child, but, in addition, there has grown between us the deep understanding such as exists with an intimate friend. John is not just my son-in-law, but one of my dearest friends. I can be serious or I can be gay with Anna and John without any thought of age or generation to divide us.
Yesterday, I put in a little time trying to rearrange my books at the cottage, particularly the shelves of my poetry books. I came across one volume by my aunt, Mrs. Douglas Robinson, and I find that I am lacking another one which I must get, for it contains many of her poems which I like.
That set me to thinking about my two aunts, Mrs. Douglas Robinson and Mrs. William Sheffield Cowles. So different in many ways, and yet with one thing in common—their love of people. Just as the two brothers, President Theodore Roosevelt and my father, Elliott Roosevelt, were so entirely different and yet had certain family traits in common, so the two sisters drew people to them in the same way, but for entirely different reasons.
Mrs. Cowles had remarkable judgment. She was interested in public affairs and in history. I used to think she might have governed an empire, either in her own right, or through her influence over a king or an emperor. She was subtle, interesting, tactful, and had the great gift of being able to listen to others, as well as to talk delightfully herself.
I am sure that all my generation would have taken any amount of trouble to spend an hour with Mrs. Cowles, even in the days when she could no longer move from her wheelchair and her body was wracked with pain. Only a little black box on the table made it possible for her to hear us, and yet her spirit rose above all physical trials and shone out of the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen.
Mrs. Robinson was entirely different. Greater charm perhaps, greater gentleness, a more easily loveable quality and feeling for the arts. She had a gift for writing poetry, but her appreciation of others' talents illuminated their work for those of us with duller perception.
Again, she could join with youth in joy or sorrow as though she was of their generation. Time with her was a precious gift granted to all of us—not only appreciated by my generation, but by those even younger. Mrs. Robinson is remembered with a tender gaiety and all of us are grateful for the windows of her soul which she opened to us.
To me they were "Auntie Bye" and "Auntie Corinne." Two women never to be forgotten, whose influence will live as long as any of us who knew them can transmit to later generations a quality which we hope will long be preserved in our family.