Marian Robinson wasn’t keen on joining the first family in Washington, D.C. She loved her home in the Black working-class neighborhood where she’d lived with her late husband, Fraser Robinson. “The White House reminds me of a museum, and it’s like, how do you sleep in a museum?” Marian told People in January 2009.

However, her love for Sasha and Malia Obama ultimately forced her hand. The “first grandmother” cooked them dinner and drove them to school, piano, and dance lessons, with the Secret Service trailing behind. “You see, my job here is the easiest one of all: I just get to be grandma. One of my biggest blessings is getting to see my granddaughters grow up before my eyes,” she wrote in a 2020 op-ed for Essence. “I go to all their school plays and sports games; I’ll answer their questions, and like any grandparent, I try to make myself scarce when their friends are around.”

Marian remained steady in Malia and Sasha’s lives as their parents fulfilled their work demands. “When I wasn’t home at the end of the day, grandma was there,” Michelle told “CBS This Morning” in 2018. “As a grandma, at every stage of their lives, from infancy and adulthood, she stood second watch over her grandchildren’s growth and development, inspiring them, listening to them, telling them she was proud of them, making them feel loved in every way,” Michelle shared in a statement on Instagram.

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