You can start by reading her extended obituary here, or I could just give you the basics. For starters, she lived in a castle. No joke. I visited said castle on my honeymoon last May. She lived in the old horse stables, which had been converted into apartments, with her eight siblings during WWII. She faced Nazi soldiers and literally spit at their feet - and lived to tell that tale. She taught herself the English language by reading comic books and listening to country music. She was a single mother, so she worked many jobs to support my mother. This included restaurant Bolton and Hay where all the big deals in Des Moines ate. This included former Iowa Governer Robert Ray, who was a lawyer at the time. As a waitress at that restaurant, she was referred to as "Dutch." She was called some no-so-nice names by her customers because Germans were not really accepted yet. (They called her a Nazi).
She overcame some of the toughest obstacles that some of us will never encounter. She was discriminated against, and yet you'd never be able to tell. She never held a grudge on life, she had a heart of gold, and always put us first. It doesn't feel like she's gone. We have some amazing memories, stories, and beautiful pictures to help us keep her in our hearts. Here are some of those pictures to illustrate her life.
This is a picture that a Des Moines Register photographer took of her. It's our absolute favorite:
I think this one looks like my older sister:
This one illustrates where I got my personality:
This one is at my wedding. I love this moment between her and Ryan:
This picture is special to me because it makes me think of my favorite story of grandma. When I was born, I was really sick. Very sick. A lot of people were praying for me to survive. I've been told that grandma was the one who prayed that God take her life instead of mine. I'm thankful he didn't, and gave us both some time together before she left us. After that, like many other people, she loved me so much and always gave me what I asked for (see cookie and kisses in photo).
Lastly, here are Ryan and I posing in front of the castle in Schwetzingen, Germany, where grandma lived.