Spunkier than a teen hyped up on a six pack of Red Bull and friendlier than a wet Labrador pup this wonderful woman housed more energy in her tiny body than eight cups of coffee. I once had a principal ask me in an interview who my hero was. I have to tell ya that this Ozark Farm Chick didn't skip a beat when I answered my Grandma Dow. What a role model this remarkable woman was in my life. Born in 1905 she found herself widowed at a young age in an era when a woman's career was bein' a good housewife and raisin' youngens. 'Just the way it was!
Inez Lola Dow, who I simply called 'Ma', buckled down and did what she did best. She loved. She loved with all her might. Mom to four left with two bottomless hungry teenagers to feed and a home to finance she began takin' 'welfare' children into her heart and home. She cared for many babies found in alley trash cans who officials thought didn't have a chance to pull through the night. Those little souls who were too disfigured or mentally challenged to place anywhere else were brought into her care. All in all she housed over three hundred of these most precious children.
Her big heart became known far an wide. The Albuquerque radio station sang her praises and gifted her with a certificate of appreciation from the city and a record album honoring the love and care this grandma of mine bestowed on these special little lambs. Her love of children continued to shine through the years. Connie Chung even did a wonderful tribute for 60 Minutes on my most positive hero.
Ma gently held my hand and guided my steps throughout my life. From her first visit to the old farmhouse in Stockton, Missouri back when I was knee~high to nothin' to present day, she's been my guidin' light. There's not a day goes by that I don't think of somethin' she said or did. I found two handwritten notes from her as I was goin' through pictures. One was written to me on the day I was born, the other was written to me shortly before her death lettin' me know how proud she was to be my grandma. I do declare, I was the one blessed to the moon and back to have had her in my life. In all the time we spent together, this remarkable lady always found the good in everyone and I never, ever heard her say a bad word about another bein'...'just wouldn't be prudent. Besides, that wasn't her style.
Here's Ma surround by her most valuable treasures. She was blessed with two more grandsons and another granddaughter after this was photo was taken. Pictured is my older cousin Judy, little Connie, Tommy who passed at the age of 14, my baby sis Donna and yep...I'm the one singin' OOOoooklahoma showin' off my tonsil~less throat along with my uvula . Did I tell ya'll my grandma had a ongoin' zest for life that wouldn't quit and was more fun than a barrel full of magic wands? A true kid at heart this magnificent gal was.
Wherever ya found Ma you'd find fun. It was on this trip to my childhood farm that my grandma and I decided to bake some peanut butter cookies while Mom did her outside chores. Now, Ma and I loved peanut butter cookie dough more that a chubby cop loves warm glazed doughnuts. We had a grand time mixin', bakin' and tastin' when my Mama came in and said, "I thought ya'll were gonna bake cookies". In the midst of our giggles we handed her the cookie platter adorned with seven very small morsels and answered, "We did!!!"
This was also the visit we gals went to Emporia, Kansas to see Ma's sis. My grandmother, mom, mom's best friend, my little sis and this thirteen year old Farm Chicklett piled in the car to make the journey. It was this very excursion these fine ladies sent me into the local Emporia drug store to buy 'em some Ex~Lax and Kaopectate. Yep folks, some were constipated and some were sufferin' the runs and they weren't goin' in so they sent me...the gullible obedient one! The two clerks behind the counter could barely contain themselves when one just had to burst out with..."Ya know young lady, these products treat opposite ailments!" Meltin' into the floor and turnin' beet red I said, " I know, those women in the car don't know whether there comin' or goin'" and got outta there faster than a jackrabbit on a date!!!
This wonderful song was sang by the likes of Perry Como, Sheena Easton and even Gladys Knight and the Pips but it's best known version is sang by Bette Midler in the 1988 soundtrack for the movie Beaches. My HERO left this world many years ago but will always live in my heart and remain to be "The Wind Beneath My Wings!!!"
'Miss ya Ma, my hero!