There are five children in my family; I'm the oldest. The youngest two are only eleven months apart. Think about that: having your fifth child before the youngest is a year old. So for one month of the year, the "babies" are the same age.
The oldest of the babies is turning fifty next week. She is a study in contrasts: She is the only one who never finished college, yet she has the most money. She is the hardest worker of us all, but knows how to be lazy. She loves shoes and jewelry but brings it all off with a completely casual look. She laughs easily, but her life has not been easy by any means. She has failed, and she has succeeded beyond her wildest dreams.
I remember when she was a toddler. Over a few days it had snowed, melted some, snowed, and iced over until we had about a foot of snow topped by a sheet of ice. We took all the cookie sheets(most of which were partially black and rusty) and went outside and slid down our back yard. My mom bundled her up and sent her out to play with us. She could barely walk and would take a few steps, fall, get up and do it again. We thought it was hilarious. And she didn't cry, just continued that moon walking and falling and getting back up.
This really has been the story of her life. Take a few steps, fall, get back up. She is an amazing person, and I salute her. In a few weeks all of the women in my family--my sisters, sister-in-law, daughters, and nieces, thirteen of us--will gather in the mountains to celebrate her birthday. It will be a celebration of a life lived bravely with humor and stamina and an unwillingness to let life knock you down so far that you can't get up. Here's to you, Nonnie!