One weekend in July 2016, 92-year-old Margaret Coleman was visited by all 14 of her children and handful of some of 48 grandchildren at the Coleman home in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago. Margaret, who also went by “Marge,” although in high spirits and with quick wit, was bedridden and on oxygen but wished to remain in the family house. Her children spoke loudly to her through a hearing device, giving updates about their own families, while the grandchildren joked with her about their summer plans before heading back to school.
Marge’s children, John, Mike, Tom, Tim, Maureen, Maribeth, Peggy, Terry, Patty, Rich, David, Diane, Cathleen and Dan, kept a schedule and took turns caring for their mother in 12-hour shifts in the house where they all grew up. Although she was a nurse and her husband Jack a doctor at Mercy Hospital in Chicago, Marge was not too keen on seeing doctors herself. The family was happy to help.
“They gave a lot to us and really built a strong family bond and so they instilled that in us, that you have to take care of each other,” said Maureen Kelly, child number five.
I was lucky enough to meet Marge and spend time photographing her with family members. At one point, all the kids stood in the kitchen, discussing the possibility and logistics of fulfilling their mother’s wish to visit the family lake cottage in Michigan one last time. The following weekend, they took her to the cottage where she spent summers at as a little girl.
Margaret “Marge” Coleman passed away on Sunday, August 7, surrounded by her family at home.
Mary Schmich wrote two wonderful stories about the Colemans here: