Iris in January 1980…holding me
Today is Iris’s 103rd birthday. Iris is an amazing lady. I know I have written about her before but today is a tribute to Iris. She was the sister to my maternal great grandfather, Odin. Iris was my pen pal my entire childhood–and before that she was my mom’s pen pal and my grandma’s. She has been a special aunt for generations to all of our family and extended family.
In 1928, Iris was the first in my family to graduate from the University of North Dakota and went on to have a successful career as a school teacher and then librarian. In 1990, Iris moved from southern Minnesota to be near family in eastern North Dakota and moved in just down the hall from my great-grandparents apartment. It was 5 minute drive from our house and we spent many fun times together like trick or treating every year to her apartment, playing my piano recitals pieces on the grand piano in their building and most of all listening to stories that Iris can tell from the past. She does not forget anything and is a living history herself.
After the flood of 1997, Iris lived with us at the farm until she could get back into her apartment. And when Hunter was born she walked (she has never been one to drive!) to the hospital to see us and it was a moment I will never forget. Touching and thoughtful. Iris asks very little of anyone and is always giving. One time she did ask me for a ride to Hillsboro ND to attend a class reunion of her former students. I will never forget walking into that museum where the reunion was held and the sheer excitement from Iris’s former students that she had come to their reunion. Now these people were well into their 70’s in age and Iris looked younger and better than all of them. She definitely had made an impact on these people as many came up to me and told stories how their favorite teacher in all their years of schooling had always been Iris.
While I was at UND, Hunter and I would go and pick up Iris and take her to McDonald’s with us. We have shared many good times over a McDonald’s hamburger. While her eye sight and hearing is failing, she still writes to us often and there is nothing I look forward to more when getting the mail than finding a letter from Iris. And hopefully today Iris is receiving many birthday cards in her mailbox!
Happy 103rd Birthday, Iris. We love you.