Carolyn Brady Wolf (“Nana”) (74) passed away after a very brief, sudden illness on May 21, 2023 surrounded by her family.
Born in Philadelphia on December 13, 1948 to Clara & William Brady, Carolyn is survived by her daughter, Natalie Wolf Aussprung and granddaughters Rachel and Lauren Aussprung, who were the center of her heart. Carolyn was predeceased by her infant daughter, Julie Scholl, her parents, her beloved Aunt Anna & Uncle Bill Horton, and her “rock” Mary McMullen (“Granny”).
Carolyn was the first woman in her family to graduate high school. In her 40’s, Carolyn graduated from Lincoln University. She was a proud member of Alcoholic Anonymous (40 years last July!) where her commitment included not only her own recovery, but also group service, sponsoring others, and working as an addiction counselor for 25 years. Carolyn considered herself blessed when she was able to stop working in 2014, at which time she became chauffeur to her granddaughters and for the last year of her life she found joy working part-time at the AA office.
Carolyn had unbelievable strength, fortitude, resilience, and self-sufficiency. She attributed this to Granny and Aunt Anna, women who served as mother figures to her when her own mother (who suffered from addiction and died when Carolyn was 18 and pregnant) could not. Carolyn considered one of the greatest blessings in her life the move to Delaware in 1970 with her husband (recently employed by DuPont) and 2 year old. She worked for many years in medical offices, starting 2 weeks after the birth of her first daughter. Carolyn got sober July 15, 1982 and spent the next 40 years, 10 months, and 7 days thanking her Higher Power for the gifts granted by sobriety.
Carolyn learned to hang drywall, do demolition, paint, and install vinyl flooring from her first husband and Granny, and, much to her daughter’s occasional consternation, would put those skills to use in her own houses when she lacked funds to pay a professional (which was pretty much always). Despite financial struggles, Carolyn was proud to have owned 2 homes as a single woman and she considered herself blessed beyond belief when she moved to North Wilmington to be closer to her family. Carolyn loved her quiet neighborhood and spent many happy hours in her garden. She loved all of nature, tending to the many birds who flocked to her home-built feeders and observing on her night-vision, porch-mounted camera the foxes and raccoons she fed daily. For many years, Carolyn bred min-pin puppies, teaching both granddaughters about the birth process, weaning, and letting go.
Carolyn was a powerful writer who crafted cards and texts filled with substance and beauty and who was mid-way through a memoir about her life. Her final thoughtful written words were to her granddaughter Rachel as Rachel sat on the floor of her college graduation waiting to walk: “My mother told me she had to leave junior high to work in a factory to support the family. I got left back one year, but did manage to graduate. When you walk across that stage, know that the generations of women in my family who didn’t get to go are watching and celebrating with us.”
I heard a TV character say, in response to how the worst experiences of life are survived, “We’re women, the strength finds us.” This struck me as exactly how my mother survived in this world, which was in her early years cruel to her. Despite a childhood marked by neglect, abuse and addiction, and part of her adult life spent unable to pay the basic expenses of our life, she never became jaded or cynical. She believed that there is goodness in the world and she gave of herself endlessly to those she loved and those in her AA community whom she believed she could help.
A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, July 15, 2023 at 3 pm at Silverside Church, 2800 Silverside Road, Wilm., DE. A meal will be shared after at the same location. In lieu of flowers,Carolyn requested donations to Faithful Friends.