Mary Parham Waggener

mary waggener

November 29, 1919 ~ October 31, 2020

Born in: Lexington, KY
Resided in: Atlanta, GA

Thoughts of a granddaughter in a tribute to her grandmother, Mary Woolfolk Waggener,(known to many friends as Nicky)
November 29, 1919-October 31, 2020.

My whole life, Daba was always there.

She picked me up from school; took me with her to the bank, and to get milkshakes, and to the A&P; took me to the neighbor’s pool on the long, late summer days when my parents were al-ready back at work. She took me to the nursing home, where she did not live, but rather contin-ued to volunteer until she was almost 90. She let me and my friends model in her community service club’s fashion show.

She taught me how to play scrabble, and word games, and solitaire; how to knit, and play tennis, and tap dance, sort of (though I can’t exactly vouch for the success of these particular lessons). She taught me to polish silver and set the table for guests; to crush and save aluminum cans for recycling; to wash and reuse ziploc bags, and to fold and stash away wrapping paper for the next round of gift giving. She taught me how to make snickerdoodles; how to balance a checkbook and write and deposit a check; how to paint my nails.

The day my college acceptance letter came in the mail, her car wasn’t there when I got home from school. She told me later that night that she saw the envelope and knew, but didn’t want to ruin the surprise, so she went out for the afternoon. She was constantly thinking of others, even in the smallest moments.

Daba taught me patience, and gentleness, and generosity, and independence. She showed me the pure joy of sitting by a window, closing your eyes and feeling the sun on your face. She taught me to keep old letters. She reminded me not to take for granted things like photo albums, and airplanes overhead, and bouquets of flowers, and long-distance phone calls (sounds like he’s just in the next room!).

She loved the company of others; but I learned from her not to fear being alone. She was a col-lege-educated woman in the 1930s; she joined the Red Cross overseas in WWII; she lost her husband young and raised three sons on her own, never remarrying; she traveled often as an adult with her friends. She had been a widow for nearly 70 years but, whether alone or sur-rounded by friends and family, she never seemed lonely. She was fiercely self-sufficient, but she seemed to know everybody, and everyone she met was uniquely touched by her warmth and kindness. I like to think we all are better for having known her. I know I am.

Mary Parham Waggener lived an incredible 100 years and left us on a blue moon, just shy of her 101st birthday. She meant many things to many people, but to me, she was not only my grand-mother – she was my caretaker, playmate, teacher, nanny, third parent and true companion. She was my Daba. And I will miss her so very, very much.

Mary’s sons Bill, John, and Tom Waggener will hold a memorial service and celebration of her life at a later date, when it is safe to gather together.

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  1. Linda and Ed Ed Lyle says:

    My husband and I did not know your Daba but we get the AJC and saw her obituary. We both agreed that this is the sweetest, most heartfelt obituary we have ever read. We are sorry for your loss but so glad you had this wonderful woman in your life so long and so glad she had such a wonderful granddaughter as you.

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