Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Happy 99th Birthday

Today would have been my great-grandma Edna's 99th birthday. I was blessed to spend a lot of time with her while I was growing up. Even though she passed away almost 3 years ago, she has been one of my inspirations to live a healthy, active live.
5 generations (from young to long-lived): me, my mom Danita, my grandma Audrey, great-grandma Edna, great-great grandma Louise

Anyone who knew grandma knew she could not sit still. We even jokingly call my mom "Edna" when she's hustling to clean up the table after a family meal. We would spend a few weeks each summer with her in her small apartment. At that point she would have been in her mid to late 70's. She didn't drive. She would walk everywhere. Each morning we'd follow her "downtown" to run the daily errands. (I think sometimes she just made up errands as an excuse to go downtown because I can't imagine she would have had something to do EVERYDAY. But we walked everyday.) She was constantly cleaning, baking, taking care of her flowers, or taking her daily walk downtown.

And she was healthy.

Great-grandma with Jacque and I in the mid 1980's
She ate well: the yummy concoctions of a German descendant living in northeast South Dakota who had spent many a year at Lutheran potlucks. If you aren't familiar with what kind of spread you could expect from such a wonderful culture imagine ham, casseroles of every kind, lemon breads, chocolate chip cookies, Aunt Sally cookies (my favorite), homemade dill pickles, pasta salads, more casseroles, homemade buns, roast, boiled potatoes, and of course, jello. And she always had to follow dessert with a piece of bread "to get the sweet taste of my mouth." She wasn't a glutton by any stretch of the imagination. But she also wasn't living on spinach and strawberries (unless they were bathed in jello and cool whip).

She was active. She didn't drive, she walked. She kept busy with her hands. And all her activity served her well. She lived independently until she was 93. The last time I was at her apartment we made Aunt Sally of my best memories. I last saw her at her 95th birthday, surrounded by her family and happy as could be. She couldn't hear very well and at that point wasn't walking, but she was still in pretty good healthy. I'm glad I get to remember her that way.

Great-great grandma and Annika in 2006 (age 93)
I'm so blessed I got her habit being active, although I need to spend more time working it into my daily life, like being in the habit of walking instead of driving rather than killing myself with crazy "exercise." Today the kids and I did our errands on foot, and I realized what joy it must have been for great-grandma to run errands with us (and any of her grandkids or great-grandkids). There are conversations and moments that happen when strolling that don't happen when we're all strapped into our seats.

She still inspires me. And I still miss her deeply.
95th Birthday Party

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