In Memory: Malvina Douglas

My great aunt died yesterday at 1:00am localtime.  Born Malvina Simon, my aunt Mal was a force to be reckoned with.  A brilliant woman, she met her husband Kenneth at the University of Chicago, and it was love at first sight. He was a well regarded translator of books and poetry critic.

They married relatively late in life, and did not have chidren.  This turned out to be somewhat fortunate, as he was killed in a freak accident, when a curtain rod fell from an apartment in New York City, where they lived.  Even more freakish, the curtain rod belonged to former governor Averell Hariman.  (On that same day, my younger sister was running a high temperature, and my next door neighbor had just broken my brother’s arm.  It was a truly freakish day.)

My aunt settled into a 5th avenue apartment on Museum Mile, after having convalesced at the home of friends in England.  In a way, tragedy followed her life.  In the early 1980s, her younger brother had a stroke, and it fell to her to manage his care.  Even in this a story can be told.  Malvina found a caregiver who was remarkable, and dealt with my great uncle’s every need.  This woman, Priscilla, passed away from a long illness on the same day her charge died.

She too suffered from ailments.  Her life was probably shortened by contaminated drug packaging.  But even then she took the time to write about her brother and Priscilla.

Malvina is survived by a three nephews, a niece, two great nephews, two great nieces, and her older brother, my grandfather.

We will all miss her.