My Iowa Bommie had achieved much for a woman in the early part of the 20th century. She earned a teaching certificate at a women's college; taught school; married an older prominent civic minded widower and raised two sons. Then, she nursed her ailing husband for years; paid off all their business debts during the Depression; worked on activities with her church, state and nationally; and supported the Pakistan mission where Aunt Kate taught. She wrote a weekly newspaper column for more than 30 years, which earned her state journalism awards year after year.
She took her first and only trip to Europe at age 75 with her English professor son and his college class, then next year traveled on a bus tour to Mexico with him. She might have taken more trips with him, except he died suddenly of a massive heart attack. Thereafter, she took the train and bus to visit us grandchildren in Texas. Once she rode a train during a snow storm to visit me and my children in Missouri. As the several hours late snow covered train pulled in the station, whistle blowing, the children and I walked down to meet the train, its cow catcher full of snow. Bommie was getting off a rear car, waving at us, tired but cheerful in the midnight hour.
Beforehand, as I grew up, I made good grades, edited school papers, and in college, was president of the women's journalism honorary. Then marriage, children, church work, and teaching all ages from first grade to adults. Many activities, many successes. Some failures, a few crushing disappointments, and several heart breaking experiences.
But, years later in my mind, thinking back to some of our conversations, I outlined my next project, my biggest challenge to date.
"Well, Bommie, I am 84 years old now and have just sent my fourth book to the publisher. I will write at least one more book, my most important one. I know I can count on you to be there with me, from the process of raising the money, writing the book, and distributing it. Then, maybe I'll stop. You think I am up to it?" I asked her.
She didn't answer at first. Then she smiled. "Yes, you can do it. And I will be there, right beside you." A true Iowa grandmother's reply.