Wonder Women

“Imagine a person who lives well, treating others fairly, keeping good relationships… This person who lives upright and well shall live a full and true life.”
Ezekiel 18:5, 9 The Message

I was back in Illinois recently to join in the celebration of my grandma’s 90th birthday. I don’t know what the national statistics on aging and lifespan are, but I am fairly confident that the number of folks living independently in their own homes, driving and experiencing reasonably good health into their 90’s is few. My grandma, Mary Lucille Happel Arp is one of the few!

If you were at the 10:30 service this past Sunday, you heard Rev. Kelly speak of learning from those who walked ahead of us. He engaged in conversation with Kathryn Ake’s Aunt Florence, who rendered Rev speechless when she told him she was 92! I’m sure many in that family have learned from her, as we have learned from my grandma.

Without sharing her entire biography, let me just say Grandma has had an adventurous life. Can you imagine starting your marriage (at age 18) by hopping on a bus in Missouri (with your 20 year old husband), heading west, without jobs or housing? Of course times were different then, in 1937…Nine years later, after several moves and two daughters, my grandparents started their farming operation in IL. They had a third daughter and life marched on

Many of my best childhood memories stem from spending time on my grandparents’ farm. As an adult, reflecting on all of their hard work and sacrifice to make a life and provide for their family, I am humbled. As a child, I thought of them more as Super Man and Wonder Woman!

Grandma came to our (my brother Mark and I) rescue more than once. There was the time we got trapped in the newly built outhouse for hours…OK, maybe it was just a half hour, but it was long enough for us to start making a plan on how to best sleep there for the night and ration 4 saltines and a pack of Chiclets gum for the duration of our entrapment. Grandma came looking for us and heard our cries for help. Then there was the time I got stuck in the muddy bank of the creek. I was convinced it was quicksand sucking my little rubber boots in as my brother ran miles (ok…a quarter of a mile) back to the house to get grandma. When I saw them pop over the hill, heading to my rescue, I cried in relief!

My grandma is the only person I know that could do several loads of laundry, round up a hay baling crew of teenage boys from town, join me in an exercise session with Jack LaLane, make a five course midday meal, show me how to embroider, collect the eggs from the chicken house, weed the garden, laugh along with me at a funny episode of Lucy…all in the course of a few hours. She was and is Wonder Woman to me!

During her 90’s years, Grandma has shown us what it means to stand by your partner in good times and bad…she and Grandpa celebrated their 70th anniversary just a few months before grandpa’s passing in Dec.’07. She has taught us about respect, honor, courage, selflessness, perseverance and many other things…not so much by her words, but by her works. She has never been one to give advice freely, but if asked, she obliges.

Grandma told me that she really “gets the blues” about missing Grandpa, and sometimes wishes “the Good Lord would have taken us at the same time.” I reminded her that must not have been in the Good Lord’s plan, and she smiled.

Dear Good and Gracious Lord,
Thank you for my grandma and thank you for Aunt Florence! Thank you for all of those who walked before us and who have helped us learn important lessons about life and how best to live it. May we embrace their knowledge and respect their stories. Amen and amen.

Andrea Heshmati

13 comments (Add your own)

1. Kim Turnage wrote:
Thanks for sharing this story, Andrea! Your grandmother sounds like an incredible woman.....one who knows for sure what The Rev preached on Sunday....that faith without works is dead!

Tue, June 16, 2009 @ 1:42 PM

2. Claudia Larson wrote:

Your devotion really hit home. Thanks for sharing your story. Grandparents truly are special people in our lives.

Kyle was blessed by two sets of caring grandparents. They adored him and he adored them. They taught him so many things, that have molded him into the wonderful young man that he is today.

How blessed you are that your grandma is still a huge part of your life!

Wed, June 17, 2009 @ 8:20 AM

3. Wendy Saathoff wrote:
Andrea, thanks sharing the gifts of your grandmother and your childhood. My grandmother also lived on her own into her early 90's and drove as well until about the same time. She was a teacher when she married my grandfather and at that time teachers could not be married. So, she chose to elope and kept her marriage secret for a year so she wouldn't lose her job as a teacher. While I can never see my grandmother having enough patience to be a teacher, I can definitely see her eloping and enjoying that secret.

Enjoy the treasure of having your grandmother so long into your own life and the blessings that she has provided you and your family.

Wed, June 17, 2009 @ 7:40 PM

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