Friday, September 2, 2011

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

Women of Achievement is our theme this month. I sat down to think about women I admire, and I couldn’t get past my grandma. Lillian Watson is 95 years old, an achievement in itself! But what makes her remarkable isn’t her age, but the way she attacks life with both grace and tenacity.

Lillian was born in 1915 in Washington State to a working class family. She was very bright and valued education, entering college at the age of 16 and working for her room and board. She graduated a three year course with a teaching credential and married my grandfather in 1937. Over the years, my grandma raised my mom, survived the loss of her second daughter, taught school, and spent many years as a farmer’s wife. The work involved in that alone was a full time job!

She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in 1953, the first of our family to do so. In 1964 she was chosen by the California Classroom Teacher’s Association to represent California at a conference in Washington DC. What is remarkable about my grandma is her effect on people. Several of her students (she taught 1st grade) stayed in touch with her for many years. She made a lasting impression on their lives.

Lately her health has been shaky, and she’s been in and out of the hospital a few times. The nurses greet her with hugs. Grandma is a trooper. She grits her teeth and fights back. Though getting around is painful, she powers through her therapy each and every time. At 95, she maintains her independence, living alone in an apartment not far from my mom, refusing to give in and move to “one of those homes.”

Lillian is still as bright as ever, beating us all in cards, reading voraciously, and earning the love and respect of everyone with whom she comes in contact. When I’m 95, I want to be just like my grandma! Is there someone special in your family you admire? Let’s hear about them!

For more information on me and my books, check my website at www.janninegallant.com. My grandma is my biggest supporter, mailing copies of my book to everyone she knows, whether they want them or not. One of these days I may have to write her story!

17 comments:

Jerri Hines/Carrie James-Haynes said...

I'm so envious. I miss both my grandmothers so much. How lucky you are. I'm sure you couldn't have a better supporter! What a wonderful lady!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Jannine,
What a great old lady your grandmother sounds. I doubt that we will ever find the likes of her generation again.
Thank you for telling us about her.

Regards

Margaret

Nancy Jardine said...

It's great to see four generations together. An inspiration indeed for you. Say hi to grandma!

Sarah Grimm said...

Fantastic post! And the picture with the four generations...awesome!

Your grandmother sounds a lot like my grandmother (who is 90) Tough, spirited and absolutely fabulous people. I'm so glad you picked your grandmother to write about...she's most definitely a woman of achievement.

~Sarah

Brenda Whiteside said...

What a great post, Jannine. I haven't had a grandma in years. You should write a book inspired by her. I did that for my mom and it's releasing in January. I bet your grandma has great stories about the 30's.

Barbara Edwards said...

What a wonderful woman! I think we'll never get another generation like hers.
Barbara

Celia Yeary said...

JANNINE--I want to be just like your grandmother. God bless her--I keep saying the older generation is tough and hardy....none of us will last that long!
As long as I can read and dress myself, etc. I wouldn't mind become that old. But it's a rare thing, and I can hear the pride you have for your darling grandmother.
Thanks for the uplift this morning!
Celia

Alison H. said...

Jannine, what a wonderful post! It made me miss my own grandma. Lillian would love to have met Gertrude, whose life spanned nearly the entire 20th century, (1900-1998). I hope we grow up to be just like them.

Jannine Gallant said...

Wow, thanks so much everyone. My grandma does indeed have some amazing stories. I've tried to write a lot of them down. I may have to branch into vintage to tell her story!

Lynne Marshall said...

Loved hearing about your Grandma. Please give her a hug from me.

Laura Breck said...

Jannine, how wonderful that you value your grandmother's achievements so greatly!

Ironically, I have an aunt name Lillian who is amazing. At 87, she is in her own apartment, she exercises every day, goes out to dinner so often I'm envious. She was a career woman, didn't marry until she was in her 50s, no children of her own but she keeps all of us nieces and nephews in line! Oh, and she can drink just about anyone under the table, too!

Cynthia said...

YOur grandma sounds amazing. Cherish her! :-)

Jannine Gallant said...

I love it, Laura. Maybe it's something about the name Lillian...

Calisa Rhose said...

What a lovely story Jannine. I miss my gramma. I only knew my maternal one since my dad's mother died when I was very young and living states apart. I think I'd want to be my oldest daughter when I grow up. She's a wonderful person with strong convictions and values I'm sure I helped instill but she handles everything she tackles with such heroic grace.

Jannine Gallant said...

Bet it's a great feeling, Calisa, knowing your daughter has those life skills. Mine are just entering their teens, so the jury's still out on them!

Ramona Butler said...

Loved your post about your grandmother. Know you are grateful for her presence and her health.
--Ramona

Vonnie Davis said...

Sorry I'm so late in commenting. Busy week, it seems. I want to be like your grandmother when I grow up. She sounds delightful, and I can imagine you've inherited and ansorbed more of her personality and persurverance than you know.