Margie Trisband has lived in almost all New York boroughs before she settled in the Bronx in 1968 on the Grand Concourse.“Not for the area. For the easy transportation!,” she laughs.
Margie, a cheerful, straightforward and resilient woman, is 70, but barely looks 60. Dark blue pendant earrings dance in her silver, curly hair. On sunny days like today, the widow puts a matching jeans jacket on and goes out for a treat – some buttered pecan ice cream at the local supermarket in Morris Heights.
A retired homecare worker, Margie has looked after many different people over the years, from a Columbia professor diagnosed with dementia, to a Democratic politician. Her eldest son died at 35 from asthma and her husband of 42 years passed away in 2006. So now she feels it is only fair that it is time to focus on herself for a bit. And for today, at least, that means she plans to treat herself with a delicious meal. “I have this lamb stew waiting for me in the oven,” she smiles.
Born in Orangeburg, South Carolina, Margie left for New York City when she was 15. At first, she lived in East Harlem with her grandmother. A widow at 30, Margie’s grandmother had raised her eight children alone.
One day in 1961, when she was 17, she said, a young man named John Trisband saw her leaning out of her window. “My hair was long, and almost red,” Margie recalls. “He told a neighbor that he would like to be introduced.” The neighbor was one of Margie’s cousins, and arranged the meeting. John visited her every day and they married a year later, though her grandmother wasn’t wild about the idea. “She had to give her blessings, it was the law at the time,” she said. “But she wanted me to stay with her.”
The couple settled in Brooklyn. John opened his own mechanics business in Queens, and in 1968, they bought a house on the Grand Concourse, in the Bronx, for $19,000 and raised their own children, two boys, Cordre and Vernon. In 1996, the idyllic life screeched to a halt. Vernon, who lived near by with his girlfriend, died suddenly from asthma. It is still hard for her to talk about him. Sadness veils over her usually cheerful eyes. After the loss, she moved back to South Carolina, but she eventually came back 12 years ago.
“I survived,” she said. “It would have been different if someone had taken his life. I don’t know if I could have survived that.”
She has survived and now it’s time to turn attention to herself. Her youngest son, Cordre, but she calls him Cody, now 27, still lives with her, to her chagrin. He works as a delivery man for Uber in Manhattan and has no girlfriend or plans to leave any time soon. She would like him to move out, she admits. “It’s time now, don’t you think?” she says quietly. Even if he settles down and has kids, she’s clear that her priority is now Margie. “I’m not taking in my grandkids!,” Margie exclaims.