How many of us can say we have five generations of family living all within driving distance? Very few. It’s a special, living legacy gift and one that we have in our family that starts with our Great Aunt Iris, who never married and is my late great-grandfather Odin’s sister.
We are Iris’s family. She has been a mentor to all of us from my grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, siblings and now to our kids. She was my grandma’s special aunt. She was my mom’s childhood pen pal. She was my childhood pen pal and then when I was about eleven years old she moved back to our North Dakota town. Iris became one of our family’s closest friends. We shared many laughs and wonderful times together and continue to today.
Iris exudes class. She is humble and gives more to others than anyone I know. She shares amazing, detailed stories with us of her childhood, early years of teaching and life lessons along the way. Iris set the standard for education in our family, graduating from the University of North Dakota in 1928, the year before my grandmother, her niece, was born.
Just over a month ago our youngest child, Anika Iris and I helped Iris celebrate her 109th birthday.
Yes, 109 years old. She still has her wit and memory. She hasn’t forgotten any stories. She doesn’t want any fanfare for her living legacy status but I recognize her example has impacted generations of my family. Here are a few photos with captions from our day of celebrating Iris at 109 years old.
Every resident of the nursing home that Iris lives in wore a tag in honor of Iris’s 109th birthday. Most residents are not in the great shape Iris is in and all agreed what a special, treasured lady she is.
(My mom never misses details and in addition to the china, had along linens, dishes and mints for our party.)
Iris, my grandma, mom, Anika and myself (along with our families) live in North Dakota, where we all were born and raised. Connie and Amy come back to visit like many family members do. I am the woman I am today because of the living legacy these women have been to me. Their examples, direction, insight and accountability empower me. And now, a fifth generation, our three children, my niece Nola, a namesake after my grandma and future nieces and nephews get to grow up in the same rich environment, surrounded by generations of family that love and encourage them.
Hug your family members today. Drive to visit them. Call them. Skype them. Whatever you can do to maintain and grow your relationship with them, do it. We all won’t live out a legacy of 109 years. Capture your moments today. I am grateful, humbled and blessed by the moments our family shares together on the North Dakota prairie.
Who is a woman in your family that has impacted who you are today?