Today would have been my Grandma Hattie's 109th birthday. She died 18years ago a clear-headed, full-hearted and physically broken old lady. No one thought she would survive my Grandpa's death in 1978. They were too close. They did everything together, including the housework. I often saw Grandpa in an apron, or folding sheets with Grandma out under the clothesline. They were in love with each other. They said the rosary together on the front porch every single afternoon of their sixty-odd year marriage. But Grandma thrived for another 10 years after Grandpa died. She lived alone in the house in Kewanee, Illinois, never missed a birthday of her far-flung grand and great-grand children, and was undone only by a fall down the stairs.
I don't have a digital picture of her, but I would post one if I did. I have a framed photo of her in our bedroom -- wispy gray hair, rosary in hand, sweater buttoned crookedly, alone, and I imagine, thinking of her husband. I think of her that way every day and somehow it makes a better husband and father of me. Happy Birthday Grandma Hattie, and thank you.