The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Monday—Miss Malvina Thompson, who had been my secretary for 29 years and who is known to most of my friends and to all my family as "Tommy," died on Sunday afternoon in New York Hospital after 12 days of very serious illness. We all hope that she suffered very little pain.

I am quite sure that no one ever lived a more selfless life. She gave of herself willingly and lovingly. She had a tremendous sense of responsibility about her work and a great sense of dignity. But because to her what she did was so important, whether the task was little or big or whether it was menial or intellectual made no difference whatsoever. She did every job to the best of her ability, and her greatest satisfaction lay in helping me to do whatever work I was doing as well as she thought it should be done. Her standards were high for me, as well as for herself, and she could be a real critic.

She had met a great many of the great in her life, but she always valued them as people and not because of their names or their position. A young friend of hers and mine said to me after her death that one would always have memories of good times with her, for she had humor, was a shrewd judge of people and could be caustic, though never really unkind.

One does not weep for those who die, particularly when they have lived a full life. And I doubt in any case whether the gauge of love and sorrow is in the tears that are shed in the first days of mourning.

People who remain with you in your daily life, even though they are no longer physically present, who are frequently in your mind, often mentioned, part of your laughter, part of your joy—they are the people you really miss. They are the people from whom you are never quite separated. You do not need to walk heavily all your life to really miss people.

The children who have so constantly come into Tommy's living room, who have used her typewriter—and sometimes abused it—who have been scolded, who have been cared for, who have been loved, they will talk of her as naturally and as often as they do the things in which she played so big a part. Their elders might make their memories into sadness. Children will keep them bright with laughter.

I am sure that no day will pass when in her own family, among her brothers and sister, her nieces and nephews, someone will not remember kindly her loving deeds of remembrance. I know that in my large family, with its many ramifications, there will never be a day when Tommy will not live.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 14, 1953

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.