Greatest Generation: Grandma

Grandma’s: We all have them, some of us really get to know them, and others lose them far too soon. I have had the priviledge of learning from two amazing grandmothers.

Wilma Belle Earp – Great Niece of Wyatt Earp the infamous sheriff of Arizona, Mother to 5, Grandmother to 8, Survivor of WWII, and The Great Depression. A Kansas raised farm girl who knew the value of every dollar, never hesitated to wring a chickens neck out back, and woke at the crack of dawn to finish farm chores; then went to school, because learning was important, but learning how to work hard was more important.

Donna Luise Monson – Mother to 9, Grandmother to 23, Great Grandmother to 3 and a devout Catholic. She served her community as a Nurse for 30 years, demonstrated resilient faith amidst lifes greatest challenges and inspired others with her kind disposition. She always spoke her mind, and never hesitated to remind me that following Christ ensured peace, purpose, and prosperity. Our family lost my Grandma Donna a year ago around this time. My deepest sadness is that I couldn’t know more of her in the time I was given.

My Grandma Wilma moved from Colorado a few years ago in lieu of my Grandpa’s Alzheimers. Here, in the small community of Keokuk she’s found a place to live affordibly in her own home with the security of her son five minutes away. She has gained another place to find life as an elder. I am grateful to have been raised in a family where those who built the foundation of our richest blessings are now being blessed with time to share the joy of their children and grandchildren instead of being in a room to be taken care of by someone else. I understand that “someone else” is usually a very caring and hardworking person, and that there comes a time our elders require the support of those outside the family, but for now Gram is in control of her days.

Many in my area know that I don’t hesitate to “share” the countless shenanigans “Gram” and I experience together. Originally I began sharing more than some would, for the mere purpose of having a record of our times together. As the sharing evolved it became apparent I wasn’t the only one who took delight in the hoot that is my Grandma. I questioned what it was about “Gram” that has prompted such a positive response, and I think I know the answer. Simply put: it is nice to see a life that is still being lived at age 86. If you ask Wilma to join in on the fun she will. Not because she feels pressured, but because she thought you would never ask. 

Whether it’s a piggy back ride, jamming in the car, pulling pranks, dancing in the living room, attempting to play guitar, wearing baseball caps backwards, or making ridiculously funny comments just because she’s trying to figure something out there is a constant stream of life happening. Rarely does Gram experience a day without visitors, phone calls, cooking, a little organizing (or as she would say “piddling”), help when needed, and a good laugh.

I’ll tell you, there is nothing like the love and life of a Grandma. The years they’ve lived are irreplaceable, the love they give feels like home, and confidence they have in you makes everything feel a little bit better. If you put your phone down they will tell you anything you want to know. When you’re short a few bucks, or a few hundred, it is yours if they have it, and if they don’t you still get a bag of cookies and a good luck hug. Grandma’s look at your life and can’t wait for you to live it. They know what is coming. The days you’ll see heartache, loss, and the cruelty of the others. The days when you’ll find the one who loves you wholly, or when your heart will burst with the pride of beginning your own family, and even the times you’ll blossom gracefully through the many unknowns you face right now.

My relationship with my Grandmother, specifically these past few years has taught me that whether you are 24 or 86 there is no better time to live.   We cannot possibly counter all the unknowns of this world, but we can let love bind us to the joy we find in one another amidst the wandering.





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