Today, October 11th, is my Grandma Mickie’s birthday.
She is a remarkable woman, still pressing forward as she begins her 90th year. Slowing down a bit, but still pressing forward.
A one-word description that jumps to my mind when I think of her is ‘ornery’. I say that with a smile. Hers is not a spiteful orneriness. It’s a scrappy intensity of life that has kept her on her feet through a life full of challenges.
My appreciation for my Grandma has grown a great deal over the last couple of decades. I’ve known her all of my forty-six years (she reminds me still how she calmed me as an infant by patting me on the bottom), but I didn’t really begin to appreciate her until I started to listen to her and learn her story. My appreciation deepened as I began to understand the significant ways she had influenced me and helped to shape me during my childhood.
My Grandma is a crafty creator. When we would visit during the summer she was always doing some curious thing, like making soap from beef tallow, or making useful things from discarded bits and pieces of things she had accumulated. She still is the cleverest of crafters, making hats from bleach bottles and butterflies from magazine pages. She sewed until she couldn’t any more, but the craft center next to her easy chair is still open for business.
My Grandma has always been a learner. Her official schooling was cut short, but she has made all of life her classroom. She’s curious about all sorts of things, and has always loved to read and experiment. She’s generally reserved, but not shy; belly-dancing lessons were not at all out of character for her. Nature has always fascinated her, including the plants and animals that live around her in the Oregon High Desert. History has long been of interest, especially now that she can tie together a couple of centuries of experience between her own life and the lives of people she knew growing up. She has much to say about human nature; we’ve enjoyed many good conversations around that topic.
She is a leader. She and my Grandpa Perry (who passed away several years ago) were always helping guide organizations they were part of, including the Deschutes County Historical Society, which they helped found. She has never been one to sit idly by when there are things to be done. She still isn’t.
My Grandma roots for the underdog. She has experienced kindness from the hands of the broken, and she has experienced hard things from those who claimed to be whole. She is less concerned about position than about heart, and is quick to defend the weak. It’s more enjoyable to be on her good side than her bad.
My Grandma is a doer, a thinker, a creator, an overcomer. She started life with challenges and setbacks, moved forward into adulthood and found more challenges and setbacks, and still kept pressing forward. I’m thankful for her perseverance and determination. I’m thankful for her involvement in my life, and thankful that some of her is reflected in me.
Happy Birthday, Grandma.