Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day: Celebrating Grandma


Growing up, my grandma and I didn't always get along. We were both independent, stubborn, and opinionated. It didn't seem like I could get through a family gathering without her "tsking" and recalling the time that I was about 4 and told her that just because she was old didn't mean that she was always right. She'd critique the fact that I'd dish up meals from the center of the bowl rather than the sides, and I'd continue to dish from the center just to spite her.

Grandma is still fiercely stubborn. For example, earlier this year, she and my dad had a disagreement about her walking home from mass in the dark, wearing all black, up the steep hill to her house, without her cell phone or any other means to contact someone if she fell. She wouldn't speak to him for awhile after he told her that she just can't do that anymore. For awhile, she was quite bitter and difficult. But I know that really, the root of the issue is that she was {is} just scared of losing her independence...and that's something that I completely understand.

Over the years, I've come to understand my grandma a bit more--why she is the way that she is, and what a truly incredible woman she was.


My grandma was actually the youngest nurse in World War II. She had to petition the governor to allow her to join the army, since she wasn't 18 yet. However, she also had a cleft palate, and the army wouldn't let her join, saying that the wounded soldiers deserved something pretty to look at.

A friend, who was a foot doctor, offered to attempt plastic surgery {which was virtually unheard of at the time} to repair her cleft palate, and did. She then joined the army, and has incredible stories about her time overseas...stories of monks burying surgical equipment to hide it from their local government.

Can you imagine being so determined to serve in the army that you'd undergo plastic surgery from a doctor with no experience, before you're even 18? Can you imagine some of the things she must have seen overseas?

I've heard stories about my grandma's time serving--about her nearly being court marshalled for speaking her mind to her superiors. Stories indicating that she was a clear leader, even though she was the youngest among them.

My grandma came home, and became the head surgical nurse at the local hospital. She worked hard, for many years, and is still well-known in the town where we grew up, especially among the medical community.

I've been blessed to be able to get to know grandma again, as an adult myself, because I've had the opportunity to realize that she's really pretty incredible.


Today, on Veteran's Day, I'm celebrating my grandma. I'm celebrating Kaitlin's husband, our good friend Jesse. Heck, I'm celebrating Kaitlin, as a military wife...because Lord knows she's served too, in a different way.

Who are you celebrating as a veteran?


  1. Wow, what a neat story! Your grandma sounds like she is quite a woman. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story!

  2. What an amazing story and woman your Grandma is! I'm honoring my father who was a Marine and served in Vietnam. He passed away in '04 from small-cell lung cancer which has been linked to Agent Orange.

  3. Wow! Sounds like your grandmother is a wonderful lady who served the country well!

  4. Wow what an amazing woman!

    I am hoth my late grandfathers, who were in the USAF, and my cousin, who is currently serving in Afghanistan with the navy.


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