96 years ago today, my grandmother was born in Arcadia Ridge Wisconsin, to farmers. Their family was small, her sister, being born premature, and the loss of a brother in infancy, left my grandmother with the responsibility in carrying out many of the chores that come with farm life. Over the years she shared many stories with me about growing up on the farm,singing on the radio, and how she'd made the choice to move to be with a family member in Winona, where eventually she would meet my grandfather.
In Winona, she went to work for a man by the last name of Jordan, learning the ins and outs of business, doing bookkeeping, opening a small grocery store with her husband and later on would open The Castle Dress Shop.
I can still remember being allowed to sit in the front window and color during visits to her store. I remember helping her bake for holidays, and the big thrills of licking the beater or in summer turning the grinder to make sandwich spread.
She was always there to help with homework, to offer hugs and comfort after rough days, to make sure I practiced the piano, and to smile and play rounds of board games and bunco for pennies on rainy days.
Even in college, she was willing to lend her kitchen to a classmate and I so we could make Spanish cookies for a class assignment, and helped us when we weren't sure of something.
In hind sight now, I wish I had asked her to teach me to cook or to sew, but Grandma taught me so much more then that. Last month, I had to give up my license, due to medical issues and for awhile I was feeling sorry for myself, and the negative thoughts were setting in, and then I thought of Grandma, who also gave up her license, but despite doing so, accomplished so much in her life-raising 5 beautiful, strong children and being a well respected businesswoman...
The most important lesson I think I will ever learn from her is that my limitations do not define me. My circumstances do not define me. What defines me is how I handle them, and I choose today and everyday to do my best to handle them with not only the stubborn determination that Grandma had, but with her grace and style.
Closing my eyes, for a moment, I sit here, listening to the birds and I can see her smile and hear her yodel.
Much love to you in Heaven, Grandma on this Blessed day of your Birth. Thank you for all that you taught me and for being a source of inspiring strength and courage.
Grandma on her farm, with her pet pig Applesauce.