Sunday, August 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to You!

I don't normally post pictures of people in this blog, but I had to make an exception for my mom, Orvie. We celebrated her 93rd birthday last weekend up in La Crosse, WI. I think this photo captures the animation and excitement that she has carried with her throughout life.

Born on an isolated farm in rural western Wisconsin in 1916, she spoke only Norwegian until she entered first grade. The one room school she attended was luckily just down the road from her family's farm, so no 5 mile walks to school [uphill both ways] for her. Although, she loves to tell stories about skiing to school during the winter months with her 4 siblings. When she started high school in the nearby town of Westby, her older brother drove them in a horse-driven sleigh during the winter.

They grew corn and tobacco ( the kind used for rolling cigars) and raised livestock such as chickens, pigs and cows. The depression hit the farming community hard and when she was a sophomore in high school, her parents lost their farm. They moved to the city of La Crosse and her father was lucky to find work in a factory, while she became a nanny and housekeeper. She never was able to go back to school.
Eventually she found better work as a waitress and met my dad, a professional photographer. And the rest, as they say, is history :-)

My dad died in 1980 and she continued to live in the same house (mowing her lawn and shoveling her walk because she could never trust the people we arranged to do this work "to show up.") until just a few years ago when she broke her hip. One of our favorite memories of her is going sledding with the grandkids at the golf course when she was 77 years old -- hoisting the sled back up the hill each time.

She now has her own apartment in an assisted living community and
despite some hearing issues, is in fairly good health for her age. The only medication she needs is Atenolol for her heart rate. She attributes her longevity to hard work and "never feeling sorry for myself as there is always someone else who has it worse." Grandma will NOT be attending your pity-party.The occasional glass of wine helps, too.

Blow out the candle and make a wish, Grandma O! :-)


Jarart said...

She is a beautiful and wise lady! Congratulations on the birthday, and may she have many more.

EverydayMe said...

MJ... how lovely... thank you so much for sharing little bits of your mother's live with us... and I love her attitude... I don't think I ever knew your dad was a photographer... hmmmmmmmm is that where you get your eye... this is a lovely post... sorry I'm late with my wishes, but I hope it was a happy time together!!!
Happy Birthday!!!
{{HUGS}} Michelle