Monday, January 19, 2009


On this day in 1909, my grandmother entered this world in Palmer, Nebraska.  Today, she is celebrating 100 years of life.   One hundred years of learning, living, wisdom, and love.  Only a very few can experience such a feeling.  Unfortunately, she doesn't remember everything quite so clearly.   It's just a product of being older for her.  She doesn't hear very well and she is legally blind so a lot of her memory loss is attributed to the lack of new input that would keep her mind sharp.  However, one would be surprised at how much she does remember and the stories she still manages to recall.  My grandmother loved to read which made the loss of her eye sight all the more devastating.

When my grandmother was 6 months old her family moved into the family home (that my great-grandfather built) out on the farm, where she would live for 84 years.  When she and my grandfather left the farmhouse for the "city" of Central City the house was falling apart and would later be "donated" to the local fire department for a training exercise.  We (really, my dedicated aunt with the consent of the grandkids) recently had to sell the farm to care for my grandmother.

As I look at my grandmother's life it is marked with some fun and interesting stories as well as some terribly tragic moments that contribute to the fact that my grandmother really never wanted to live to see her 100th birthday. 

Here is a smattering of stories:

  • My grandmother accepted my grandfather's marriage proposal because she "wasn't sure if anyone else would come along."  You see, I think my grandmother had several marriage proposals and turned them down for a variety of reasons.  My grandfather was 7 years younger.

  • Grandma was 40 years old when she gave birth to my mother and 70 when I was born.

  • Grandma has endured what no parent should have to endure - she outlived both of her children.  She also out lived her younger sister and her husband.

  • Grandma made the best eggs -- I learned her secret... salt.

  • She got her first refrigerator in 1950.

  • She was still using an outhouse in the early 1970's because my grandfather didn't want to fix the plumbing.  (It was finally fixed at some family urging)

  • Her father used to take them to school in a horse-drawn wagon.

  • She remembers driving one of those "crank-up" cars.

Oh, I am sure that I could sit here and recount a variety of things.  I opted to go to college in Nebraska for a variety of reasons and one of them was so I could be closer to my grandmother for a time.  I had to laugh when I would visit and try to sleep in because noises that I remembered as a child from the farm were still present in the new house.  What noise is that you ask?  The All-Star Polka Show.  Yes, it's true.  The All-Star Polka Show was a must listen on the farm radio which was forever on the same channel unless there was a baseball game.  People would call in and ask for a  "special" polka to be played for some random occasion.  It would drive me nuts but it's a memory that I now cherish.

My grandmother's quality of life isn't all that great right now.  She basically spends her days sitting in the chair in her long-term care unit.  She's not sick with anything it's just a better place for her to be than at home alone.  She opted to go there on her own which I think was the best thing for her.

My husband is a wise man.  I was sharing with him feelings about my grandmother, her 100 years, and her current quality of life.  His response to me was, "God is the giver of life and it is to be honored." These words struck me to my very core...because they are true.

So, here's to my Grandmother and her 100 years of a full and sometimes adventurous life out on the farm.

1 comment:

  1. That is a very beautiful post about your Grandmother, Jessica. I am SO impressed by your love for her. I'm sure that the "farm life" helped her live to her 100 years! Love, Mom Caughey