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Do you ever wonder what the world will be like in 2042?  That is the year that a child born today will first be able to vote for the president.

It’s fun to tell kids about their ancestors.  Maybe we know something as “senior citizens” that can help children heal the world in 2022 and beyond.

Here is a story about Margy Merion, my dear mother-in-law who passed on October 27, 2021.

1975: Deb and Bob’s engagement –Margy and Milt Merion, Bob Merion, Debbie Eisenberg Merion, Helen and Mort Eisenberg, Bessie Rudnick

4 Things to Remember About Margy Merion

  1. She loved to laugh and have fun

Margy Merion was a fun-loving person.  She loved to laugh.  I always loved the story about how she bought a large car-washing sponge, covered it with chocolate icing, then pretended to serve it to unsuspecting friends at their swim club as “sponge cake.”

But how did she arrange a final trick that nearly made us all laugh through our tears at her funeral, on Oct 27, 2021?  There we were, about two dozen family members, gathered around her grave in our black coats and boots, as we stood under the tall pine trees with pine needles that covered the orange, red and green oak leaves on the grass. Bob and Jan had themselves officiated at a beautiful ceremony, using Margy’s own family bible.  Family members had eulogized her.

Then two strong gravediggers in their hooded sweatshirts straddled her coffin on two by fours, grabbed the oragne straps holding her box in preparation to lower her down into the hole, and the third gravedigger pulled away the two two-by-fours that were under the coffin, keeping it up out of the hole. Slowly they loosened the straps to lower her, inch by inch, until the coffin stopped. Uh-oh.

Margy might have well have been a kindergartener grasping the door jam to the doctor’s office…”no, not today.”  For 10 awkward minutes the family waited while the cemetary workers tried three more times, clearing some branches inside the hole with an electric skill saw and shoveling dirt off the sides.  Finally, Margy relented to leaving her family.  But not without giving us a good story to remember her plucky charm.

Perhaps she pulled off the cemetery trick because Margy never thought she would die.  Psychologists might call this delusional thinking or more politely, wishful thinking.  It must have been a very comforting thought, and she nearly pulled it off.  For nearly 90 years she had been a very healthy person;  no major illnesses. Even her voice had a girlish quality into her 80s. She will be missed by all her knew her. We dressed her for success on the other side in a black pantsuit with a faux leopard collar, and a soft, warm mink coat.


  1. She loved to feed her family and bake for them

Here is the eulogy that I read about Margy on that fall day in Framingham…

50 years with Margy Merion shaped my life. Not only did she give me a precious gift, the love of my life, Bob, but she brought a certain artistic slant in my life from an early age with her green cut velvet French sofa, her Japanese pottery collection, and her huge needlepoint in the walls. Who hasn’t heard about her formative ballet lessons as a 4 year old but in her mind I believe she became a retired ballerina as an adult with her morning stretches and interest in low pointy pumps that were not much more than patent leather versions of ballet shoes, like the ones she is wearing right now.

My mother was the practical realist teacher, so different from Margy, who once told me she estimated the amount of paint needed for a remodeling by by pretending to paint the walls while going that’s one gallon, that’s two gallons.

I met her when I was 15 and Bob brought me home, four miles north to a newer part of Philly with landmarks like Jack’s Deli and Pennypack park.  Marge and Milt would take me to their swim club, where I would wear a bikini and lay in the sun with Bob, a visit both romantic and sophomoric, but always with a safe feeling of acceptance from his parents, nothing ever but acceptance. I never understood mother-in-law jokes because what did I know of mother-in-law’s who didn’t dote on you and later, your children with an almost over the top generosity of spirit.

In her home we were never hungry, never bored, never lacking something to read. There were fresh baked chocolate chip cookies waiting for us in the downstairs freezer and chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream in the upstairs one.

I love thinking about how my mom and Margy went to the hairdresser together every Friday. Margy would finish first and my mom would entreat her to make sure she had reservations at the next destination. Lunch. Margy would assure her she did and then go dutifully there to snag a table and wait for her friend Helen to finish with her final spray of acqua net. But Margy told me later that the restaurant was always empty when she arrived so she never did get a reservation. She just said so to appease her friend Helen, who was never the wiser. I like to imagine those Friday lunches with these two Philly women, hair and nails done, laughing about the latest neighborhood story that you could never read in the Jewish Exponent. I hope my mom will welcome Margy to her Friday lunch tomorrow and they’ll look down on their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren and feel good that they made a difference in this world. Margy, I’ll miss laughing with you. Thank you for being you.

March 4, 2020. Margy’s 89th birthday party. Milt Merio, Margy Merion, Janice Merion-Billings and Bob Merion. Margy didn’t bake this cake, but she loved eating it!

  1. She loved her machatenesta (Yiddish for the parents of a child’s spouse)

As I helped Jan and Bob and Milt sort out Margy’s belongings, I came across a few photos that she had kept in her top drawer. There was her mother, Ethel and step-father, Al, at our wedding in 1976.  There was Milt and Margy in 1994, hugging on a single pool chair.  The setting was documented on the back in my mother’s handwriting—“poolside at Delray Villas,” where my parents lived in Florida.  There was a fabulous picture of my parents and Margy and Milt, likely taken in the 1970s.  And a great photo of my mom and Margy wrapping a gift in Margy’s living room.  Who would be getting the oven mitt in Margy’s hand?  Maybe it was for our wedding sho

1976 at Temple Beth Torah in Phila. at Deb and Bob’s wedding. Albert Moore, Margy’s step-dad and Ethel Moore, Margy’s mother



1975 Margy Merion and Helen Eisenberg in the Merion home on Agusta St. in Phila. See the sofa alluded to in my eulogy?

  1. Her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren inherited her artistic, energetic spirit.

How can we remember and celebrate a matriarch?

My parents would save obituaries of people they knew and loved in a loose-leaf binder. That seemed like an odd habit to me. But that was in the 80s and 90s, when our lives – and obituaries– hadn’t become findable online with a few keyboard clicks.

But I get it now. Obituaries are life stories. Stories aren’t complete until we know the end, I suppose. So copied below is Margy’s obituary in the Jewish Exponent, written by Janice Merion, with some friendly edits by Bob Merion.

Marjorie (Margy) Merion, 90, died peacefully on October 27, 2021, in the Framingham, MA home she shared with Milton Merion, her beloved husband of almost 70 years,. Margy was buried at the Framingham-Natick Hebrew Cemetery in Natick, MA in a private family ceremony on October 28, 2021, surrounded by beautiful century-old oak trees, their multicolored leaves floating quietly to the ground on a crisp autumn day. She was interred in a traditional plain pine box and wore the long mink coat given to her by Milton more than 50 years ago.

Born March 5, 1931, in Philadelphia, PA, Margy was raised, educated, and worked in the city of her birth.  Margy identified strongly with her Jewish faith and was confirmed at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in 1947. Margy became a certified X-ray technician and worked in the office of Dr. Samuel Levine, a prominent general surgeon in Philadelphia.   Following an introduction by Margy’s cousin, Norman Knee, her courtship with Milton Merion led to their wedding on November 11, 1951, at the Penn Sheraton Hotel. Following a romantic honeymoon in Miami, featuring an airplane ride and a rented convertible, the couple moved to Norfolk, VA while Milton served in the US Navy.  They returned to Philadelphia to start a family in 1956.  Later, Margy worked alongside her husband at Milton C. Merion Ocean Freight Forwarders, Inc. in downtown Philadelphia until they both retired.  Throughout her married life, Margy proudly maintained a Jewish home, teaching her children and grandchildren about the rich culture and traditions of the Jewish holidays and their many culinary accompaniments.

Outside of family and work, Margy had many lifelong interests and hobbies. Margy was an avid art enthusiast; she painted watercolors, created complex crewel projects, attended college art history classes, and toured art museums in every city she visited. She was a voracious reader (especially biographies), green-thumb gardener, mahjongg enthusiast, and intrepid traveler with Milton to European countries, Mexico, and several Caribbean islands.

Margy was always energetic; swimming and tennis were her sports. Her Zodiac sign was Pisces; true to the water sign, time spent in swimming pools and the ocean centered and delighted her. She displayed a flowing physical grace and unpretentious style throughout her life, both in and out of the water. She played tennis for years at Northeast Racquet Club in Northeast Philly. Off the court, she and Milton could often be found closely following that week’s major professional tennis tournament on TV or in person at the Spectrum. Margy was always knowledgeable about the top seeded players. She also loved dance and spoke often about having been a serious ballet student as a young child and performed on stage at the Academy of Music. As an adult, she did aerobics and took up yoga in her 50’s. She delighted in showing people she could still touch her toes well into her late 80’s.

One of Margy’s greatest joys was actively participating in the lives of her four grandchildren as a fun-loving, easy-going, young-at-heart grandmother, watching them progress from childhood to adulthood to parenthood. She was an excellent cook and baker known for many signature dishes and enjoyed teaching her children and grandchildren to bake.

In 2017, after living in the same home in Northeast Philadelphia for more than 61 years, Margy and Milton moved to a senior community in Framingham, MA to be closer to their daughter, Janice Merion-Billings, and their younger granddaughter, Sarah Merion.  Margy was delighted with the birth of her great-granddaughters Jordyn in 2019 and Aviva in 2021. She proudly told everyone that family was the center and most important part of her life.

Recounting and reliving episodes of her life was an important facet of Margy’s relationships with family members and friends. Later in life, she wrote dozens of short stories. (Two are below). These were often self-reflective or descriptive of her feelings and reactions to diverse topics and events. One such short story, “Who Am I?” was read by her granddaughter, Sarah, at her funeral.

We miss her deeply but take solace in so many wonderful memories.  May her memory be for a blessing.

Margy Merion is survived by her husband Milton; her son Robert Merion (Debbie), and her daughter Janice Merion-Billings (Ron Parker); four grandchildren, Alison Arena (Adam), Sarah Merion (Jeffrey Corrado), Zachary Billings, and Joshua Billings; and two great-grandchildren, Jordyn Grey Arena and Aviva Zazie Merion Corrado.


Margy’s Stories.

Margy wrote 29 stories. I encouraged her. She wrote them and didn’t edit them, and they had the fresh, honest voice of a woman who had something to say about her blessed life. Below are two.

My Favorite Music (#1)

Marjorie Merion May 2005

At the ripe young age of two, I was enrolled at a professional ballet school.  It was run by the choreographer of the Philadelphia Civic Opera Company, William Sena.  He was a strict master with a long pole that he used to pound on the floor when emphasizing a ballet step.

I got this school because my cousin, Lil Greenblatt, was a member of the ballet corps.  Every Saturday, I was taken for an hour lesson along with about six other two-year-olds.  Naturally, the music was beautiful, classical ballet music. 

To this day, I get a thrill just hearing some of those tunes. Today, children do not start dance ballet and toe until six or seven, and, since this was one of the most prestigious dance classes in the city, there was a lot of classical music played on a grand piano by a gray haired old man.

As I got older, I still loved the music wherever I was and especially going to see the ballet at the Academy of Music or at a theater in New York and Washington.

Ballet music has an interesting feeling – it takes you away from all your worries, fears and phobias.

My Favorite Place to Visit (#2)

 Marjorie Merion May 2005

 I’ve been so lucky.  If I mentioned all the great places I’ve visited, it could be a travel agent’s brochure.

How do I pick my most favorite?  Think about me and what my favorite places in life turn out to be.  Pisces is the biggest hint.  Where there is water to go in or be on top of or spending time looking at should be the first clue.

For four years, we went to Cancun and it had everything I desired.  Sea as calm as a lake, pools that cascaded down the length of the hotel, only Spanish spoken and no Gringos but us.  A lovely sea coast, lots of great restaurants, shops and nothing more to do if you were so inclined.  The city was safe to walk, and grab a bus or a cab.  Wonderful Mayan ruins to let your imagination run through.  I’m ready to brush up on Espanol, get a new bathing suit and head back to the lovely country of Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula.

2/94 Margy and Milt Poolside at Delray Villas (caption on the back of the photo written by Helen Eisenberg, who likely took the picture at their pool at Delray Villas in Delray, Florida.)

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