Sunday, March 11, 2012
It May Just Be March 11th
Today is March 11, 2012. It may just be another day in March for you. For me, March 11th is always an important day. It’s not my birthday. It’s not my anniversary. On this day in 1918 in Minden, Nebraska a very important person was born. It’s not a President of the United States, it’s not a Hollywood superstar, it’s not even someone who made a major scientific discovery. Unless you are a member of my family, you have probably never even heard of her. On this day, my grandmother, Ruth Winters, was born.
Some people are blessed to have one great mother in their lives. I don’t know why God chose me to have two. Grandma Dear (as I used to call her) was a one-room schoolhouse teacher for many years until 1978. At the end of that school year, the one-room schoolhouse was going to close and the children that attended it were going to be sent to the town school. I’m quite sure Grandma could have continued to teach, but she chose to retire. It just so happened her retirement coincided with my birth. When my mom went back to work, my second mother (Grandma Dear) took care of me.
Grandma Dear was an extraordinary grandma. Being raised at Grandma’s house was an awesome experience. There was always something fun to do at Grandma’s. I remember lots of arts and crafts. My mother says she could always tell when we had been working with glitter, as it would end up in my hair. There were interesting toys to play with. Grandma constantly encouraged my vivid imagination. Occasionally there would be a cousin or two to play with at Grandma’s. I remember taking trips to museums in the area with Grandma and Grandpa. I believe it was these early experiences that helped me develop my appreciation for history.
It wouldn’t be until years later that I would appreciate the woman who was my grandmother for the things she did before she was my grandmother. Grandma was born two years before women were allowed to vote. The expectation for women was slowly changing, but still very traditional. By society’s expectations, Grandma should have graduated from school, married a local boy, and begun to have children. Instead, Grandma went to college, Chadron State to be exact. She earned her teaching certificate and went off to teach in one-room schoolhouses.
Then World War II broke out. Grandma left her country life and moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming where she worked on B-17s. She was a real life Rosie the Riveter. A few years after that, Grandma joined the Navy, as a WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). When I was in the 6th grade we were studying WWII in history and I was able to ask Grandma about her service. It had always surprised me that the proper lady I knew as my grandmother would leave her comfortable life to go be Rosie the Riveter or a member of the Navy. I asked her what her motivation for this was. Her answer was simple. She said, “Our country was at war and I did what I could.” In that moment, I learned my grandmother was a patriot.
A few years after the war, my grandmother was invited to a dinner party at her brother’s house. A cousin of her sister-in-law was also in attendance. This is how my grandparents met. On October 10, 1948 they were married. My grandmother was 30 years old. Getting married at 30 isn’t shocking by today’s standards. She was considered to be an old spinster back then. I don’t believe her status bothered her. She lived an interesting life full of adventure before she settled down.
Grandma was a strong, independent woman. I believe it was this independence and strength that helped make me into the woman I am today. I feel blessed that I had her in my life. Grandma Dear would have been 94 today. The good Lord took her home on November 9, 2007. I hope she is having a grand birthday celebration in Heaven with lots of Russell Stover chocolates, sparkles, peonies, and roses (some of her favorite things).
Thank you, Dear Reader, for allowing me to share Grandma Dear with you.
Until Tomorrow - Melissa
A Picture of Grandma Dear. When I think of glamorous ladies, this picture comes to mind.