2017-05-14 / Insight

Every day is Mother’s Day for one Metamora family

BY ANDREW DIETDERICH
810-452-2609 •


Metamora’s Geordi Wright (left) talks with her grandmother, Thelma Hogan, about Thelma’s upcoming 106th birthday. Geordi says with Thelma around, every day is like Mother’s Day. 
Photo by Andrew Dietderich Metamora’s Geordi Wright (left) talks with her grandmother, Thelma Hogan, about Thelma’s upcoming 106th birthday. Geordi says with Thelma around, every day is like Mother’s Day. Photo by Andrew Dietderich Two things instantly bring a smile to the face of Metamora’s Thelma Hogan, 105: recalling her childhood nickname and kissing the hand of her granddaughter.

“Do you remember your nickname? What your dad used to call you?” asks Thelma’s granddaughter, Geordi Wright, 54.

Thelma can’t always see or hear as well as she once did, but there’s no doubt about it this time as a smile appears.

“Dolly,” Thelma says. “I was always Dolly.”

It’s these moments that Geordi says she appreciates most — moments when the smiles appear, or when Thelma “throws some zingers out there,” or she suddenly has a vivid memory that is usually of someone who passed away years ago.

Moments like when Thelma feels so much love she can’t help but smile and give her granddaughter a kiss on the hand.

And moments like when Geordi arrives home from a long day’s work to find Thelma comfortable resting nice and warm and cozy.

It’s all these things, Geordi says, that makes every day seem like a kind of Mother’s Day.

“I come home and she’s all comfy in her chair,” Geordi says. “It’s a nice, peaceful, warm, and cozy arrangement.”

Thelma turns 106 on June 4, which means she was born in 1911.

To put it in perspective, Thelma was 11 months old when the Titanic sank. She was 86 when the movie “Titanic” was released 20 years ago.

It could be broken down a million ways like that, but the point is, Thelma Hogan has had a lot of time to make a lot of memories on planet Earth.

It starts with her birth in West Bloomfield and continued with moves every couple of years to places like Clawson, Troy, and Birmingham.

When Geordi reminds Thelma that she’s been living in Lapeer County for four years, Thelma’s response shows how moving has always been a part of her life.

“Four years?” Thelma says. “About time I moved.”

As a teen, Thelma studied at the former Detroit Institute of Musical Arts, a music conservatory where she learned piano. She would occasionally fill in for the organist at a large nearby church.

Geordi says Thelma often has told stories about turning off all of the lights to watch members of the Purple Gang drive back and forth across the Detroit River, smuggling booze into the U.S. during Prohibition.

Thelma left school in 11th grade, and a couple of years later married her first husband, Bob Teichman. Together, they had two children, Robert, and Joanne Seifferlein, Geordi’s mother (who is 83 and has health issues, Geordi says).

Bob Teichman died in 1938, weeks before Social Security went into effect.

Thelma didn’t have a choice but to go to work as a “Rosie the Riveter” at Holley Carburetor in Detroit. She would take several buses to commute from Troy to Detroit, and worked there for 20 years, starting on the factory line and eventually becoming an inspector.

“She’s been a busy lady. She’s worked hard her whole life,” Geordi said.

Upon retirement in 1980, Thelma and her second husband, E. Merrill Hogan retired to Florida, then moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky. Merrill died in 2002.

Thelma, Joanne, and Geordi (along with Geordi’s husband, John Wright, and their son) moved to where they now live in Metamora in 2013.

The move allowed Geordi and her family, along with assistance from hired help, to take care of Joanne and Thelma in the comfort of their Metamora home.

“I’m so honored to have them here with me because when I was a little kid, we didn’t get to do a lot of special stuff like (celebrate Mother’s Day),” Geordi says. “It was just working hard and making a living and everything.”

These days, Thelma doesn’t work so hard.

She is perfectly happy to have Geordi take her to have her nails done, go to the park or on small shopping trips, or simply sit out in the sun on the family’s deck in Metamora, listening to one of her many compact discs.

“She’ll sit out there and tap her feet and hum along,” Geordi says, recalling how Thelma’s parents would often host large dances.

“They were always dancing,” she says.

Geordi says Thelma’s processing also has slowed. She has trouble doing crossword puzzles like she used to love, but likes to run math quizzes by people from time-to-time. She’ll also get frustrated by her own limitations occasionally.

Still, Thelma Hogan’s personality continues to shine through and bring joy.

Example?

When asked if she wants a big party for her 106th birthday, Thelma pauses a moment to think about all of the people who would show up, the people who she has touched in one way, shape, or form throughout the years.

Then she thinks about cleaning up after the party.

“You’d have a wild mess,” she said, once again bringing a laugh and a smile to those around her.

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