September 8, 1941
HYDE PARK, Sunday—An anxious 24 hours culminated a little before noon today in the death of my husband's mother. Had she lived until the 21st of this month, she would have celebrated her 87th birthday. One can have none of the resentment which comes when death cuts short a young life, but she was a very vital person with a keen interest in living and I think had she had a few more years vouchsafed her, she would have lived them with keen avidity and enjoyment.
She was born in the year 1854, brought up in a large family and endowed with the Delano beauty. She sailed to China on a clipper ship, as well as to Europe on the most modern of today's steamers. Her early experiences were picturesque and interesting.
Her life was a rich, full life. She had seen her only son inaugurated as President of the United States three times, and she still felt that her husband was the most wonderful man she had ever known.
I think her family, both in her own generation, and in the younger generation, would say that her strongest trait was loyalty to the family. She had no hesitancy about telling her near and dear ones their faults, or criticizing their behavior, but if any one else in the world were to attack a member of her family, she would rise in their defense like a tigress. Whatever the family did, in the end, she accepted and condoned before the world, no matter what her private feelings might be.
She was a very generous person, not only to her own family, but to many others. She was charitable, but I think she enjoyed even more giving to those whom she knew had once enjoyed a little more financial leeway than might be theirs today, and who would therefore prize some little luxury.
She would give away large sums of money and save small ones. The President's mother always attributed her little economies, like undoing string and folding wrapping paper for future use, to her New England upbringing. She was not just sweetness and light, for there was a streak of jealousy and possessiveness in her where her own were concerned, but when others were bored, she would be kind and had the gift of making all those around her feel that the word "grande dame," was truly applicable to her.
She wanted her son to live up to high standards of character and conduct, and never believed that he failed in this. She spoiled her grandchildern perhaps a little, but they had great affection and respect for her. I think even some of her great-grandchildren will remember her when they grow up, as a very beautiful, stately old lady who loved them and made them feel that Hyde Park would be their home as long as it was hers.