The Leaning Cow

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Isabella Selmes Ferguson Greenway

January 19th, 2017 ·No Comments

I had to look up this lady’s name because only once did I run across an account of her decades ago in a book about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. I really should have looked more into her life; I should have realized that an short anecdotal reference in a book does not normally stay with you for several weeks, then months, then years, then decades without it being very meaningful.

The nutshell gist – and that’s getting pretty basic – of the reference is that Isabella and Eleanor were girlhood friends and, in fact, Isabella’s first husband, Robert Furguson, was at one time a suitor of Eleanor’s. Her brother Hall confided later to a friend that he had been rooting for Robert, rather than Franklin.

Well, in the early years of both marriages, Robert was diagnosed with tuberculosis and he and Isabella moved to Arizona for his health. Apparently Isabella managed to blend the architecture and style of the Southwest with the familiar furnishings of the quite upper class lifestyle of far away New York society. Eleanor visited at one time and wrote in a letter to a friend that Isabella had made such a pleasant home, both in comfort and good cheer that she said it almost made one wish they had a husband who had tuberculosis and had to go to Arizona.

I do not have that type of personality; I wish I did. However, if the best I can do is recognize the gift Isabella had and shared, then I am at least glad that for a few minutes every now and then I can see what I should have had the good sense to strive for.

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