I’m writing this on what would have been my grandmother’s 110th birthday. We called her Olie; her name was Viola, and she never wanted to be called anything like “grandmother.” She was a woman ahead of her time in many ways because she was a proud working woman. Proud to work, proud of her jobs and employers. I’m sure she worked because she needed to, but it always seemed that she also did so because she wanted to work. As a child she would often provide office items to us as toys. An alphabetical file sorter comes to mind. And she sometimes paid me to work for her – like going to the store on my bike to pick up something she needed; that earned me a dime. Notes from Olie were typed, on a typewriter she always had handy. Her work ethic was strong and that is something she passed along to my father and brothers. She was a small but tough woman, she lived to 98½ and told us many times that “growing old is not for sissies.” I’ve learned how right that is and this is a chance to say thanks Olie for the lessons you taught!
David’s grandmother, Olie, was unlike other people’s grandmothers I had met. First of all, I was quite taken aback that she insisted on being called by a derivative of her name instead of the usual grandmotherly titles preferred by most grandmothers. Once I got to know Olie, however, it became apparent she was not the usual cookie baking, eager to spoil the grandkids type person. Far from it, she was a retired professional woman who had worked for several large corporations during a time most women did not work outside their home. Olie had a real job, a job that paid money, a job in a big city; she was not merely David’s, and his siblings’, grandmother. She had a housekeeper, who also cooked her family’s meals, for whose services she paid from the money she earned. She knew the value of money, and hard work, more than is possible for many women of her generation who relied on their husband to pay the bills, give them an “allowance” for household expenses, etc. Olie, was, by many standards, ahead of her time. She liked the fact that, like her, I am a plain spoken, hard working professional woman (who just happened to love her first grandson!). Olie was definitely not warm, fuzzy, or cuddly, but she was an inspiration to me for everything she accomplished. Thanks to Olie and the other trail blazing women of her generation, the women in my generation have been able to achieve greatness. Olie used to sing the old hymn, “Count your Blessings,” and I count among my blessings getting to know and love Olie!