M. Douglas Wray

Pillar of Light

My grandmother was the strongest woman I’ve ever met. She lived in Vandergrift, PA – a steeltown that subsequently struggled after WWII. Depression, war, house fire – life was NOT easy with three daughters after her husband collapsed and died on the steps of the steel plant after a sunday shift. She went on. I always admired her humor and her iron will, which I saw clearly in my mother. She was such a survivor. I’m certain her spirit lives on.

Emily Rowe-Snyder


Pillar of Light

Within my heart there is a room
where you shall always live,
a place that I will visit
when thanks I wish to give.

For strength that knew no boundries
for love that had no fear
for arms forever open
to draw her loved ones near.

Faith that was unshaken
by adventures manifold
Fire unmistaken
in stories often told.

Ashlar of our family
keystone of our world
always there to listen
as our lives unfurled.

She built a mighty edifice
against eternal night
within us now, her strength remains
as pillars of pure light.

MDW 1/4/01

For my Grandmother

My cousin Joe, whom I mention in other places, read this at my Grandmother’s funeral. I heard a recording of it and he did it real justice. I could tell he was terrifically moved by it, as was intended – I’m certain the audience was too. I’m deeply indebted to Joe for doing that since I was unable to attend and this was my final elegy to her. Whatever our differences may be, he has my undying thanks for that act. No small task and he did it with great honor. Thanks Joe. I’ll never forget that.

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