Born in Louisa County, Iowa my grandmother was during her life remains for me still a profoundly important source of inspiration and guidance in my life. Her life was hard but she lived it with grace and dignity. Like many other Americans of her day she left school after the eighth grade. She married young and was widowed young and married my grandfather three times. She married for the last time in the late 1960s when she was in her seventies.
For much of her adult life however she lived alone and worked hard in both Des Moines and Indianola to support her only child my father during the terrible days of the depression and then to support herself. In the 1950s and 1960s she managed a motel on old highway 65-69 in Indianola taking care of guests at all hours of the night and doing all of the maid and managerial work herself. She was a strong hard-working determined woman who only wanted for her son and his children what she had never had: a good education and a good job that did not require back-breaking physical labor.
She faced all of her adversities and tragedies and they were many with extraordinary dignity and grace and with the highest of moral standards. A devout Christian her entire life she despaired that I was not one as well but she was never small-minded enough to hold that against me. She conducted herself always and at all times like a lady a term of respect and a form of behavior that has fallen sadly into disrepute in these days of liberated women. But it was that aspect of her character that dignified ladylike behavior along with her honesty and integrity that influenced me the most as I grew up.
Even now fifteen years after her death whenever I am in doubt as to how I should conduct myself in a situation I have only to ask myself how she would have behaved. Last but certainly not least my grandma had a wonderful sense of humor knew when to slip a kid an extra five bucks and made the best damned fried chicken and gravy I have ever tasted. I learned a great deal from her during the twenty-six years she was part of my life. I hope that I never lose my memories of her or the wisdom she bestowed upon me.