I saw a picture today that was taken three years ago of my granddaughters, Karis and Atley, standing outside of the Hospice House in Owatonna. We were going to visit my mother who was receiving care there prior to her transfer to the end of life care center in Northfield. I remember my mother as a vibrant, active and generous woman, involved in several volunteer roles, working full-time, caring for home and family and yet having the capacity to be an exemplary friend to other women and to give of herself so freely. Her life was not without its stresses and disappointments but she overcame them with an inner strength and faith that pushed her through. She was a mentor and role model to the women she worked with and a mother to some of the younger of those. By far the greatest gift that she gave to me is the love of books and music. I remember many times sitting curled up beside her, both of us with a book in our laps whiling away the hours on some adventure. And the weekends, when she would buzz around the house in shorts and a sleeveless blouse, her bare feet pounding out the miles of housekeeping, cooking, baking, cleaning and laundry. She donated as many meals as she made for her family to the veterans organizations, church bazaars, our neighbors and those in need. And while she worked around the house the music played – big band, jazz, crooners and orchestras blaring life through the house just like the breeze that came in through the windows blowing the curtains. She always had a joke to share or a story to tell and her laughter was contagious, especially when she was among her family, the siblings she almost never knew she had. One of eight children, she and her siblings were separated after the death of their mother. My mother was four years old at the time, number seven of the eight. Each went to a different family, as it was the depression and none had means to take them all. As the families moved to find work, the miles grew between them all. After twenty years one of the older brothers located each of the siblings and brought them back together for the first of many years of family reunions. This family truly understands the value of love and sacrifice. My mother’s story of her childhood is one of many hardships, sorrows and fears, yet out of that somewhere was built a strength and resilience that seemed without rival. She and I, both being Irish had our moments, but I will always admire the change and the growth that I saw take place in her over the years, the drive to become a woman of integrity and honor who managed her house and her possessions well. Proverbs 31:28–31 says, “Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her saying ‘many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” As I prepare very soon to attend another reunion and surround myself with a love that is generous and unconditional, I rise up today and say, God bless you, Dottie Mae.