They called her Mother Nature right below the Wild and Scenic part of the Rogue River where she lived.
She is a legend there.
Virginia. Mother Nature. Granni to my husband. Granni Great to my children.
Living in a town of population 17, she lived among bears, a family of Robins, hosts of deer, a mangy orange cat named Daisy, and a Fox we all called “Foxy Foxy.” Over the years She has been featured in Papers, on the Today show, and is lifelong friends with baseball great Bobby Doerr.

A real life fairy tale life. Not the one where money and possessions are important- but the fairy tale where love is a magical gift, and life is waking up every morning being so grateful for your surroundings, and wild animals wait for you to feed them.

She lived in a One Room School house, renovated by her husband Grandpa Casey. He died of a heart attack too young, in his boat, with a fish on a line. He was also a legend on the River. My husband was 8. I so wish I could have known him.

Three years ago she fell, and couldn’t live on her own anymore. My lovely mother in law Joan, her only child, brought her to Grants Pass, to a place Granni calls the “institution.” In reality it is a beautiful assisted living facility, full of wonderful people. But it’s not her people, her animals, her woods, her river.

She said to us today “I was the most rich woman in the world for many years, because I was so happy.”

She is loved. By Joan. By all of us. At 97, she still twinkles and laughs. While we were there she gave Grace a big pink fluffy rabbit, and Grace named her Strawberry. She loves candy and she and Grace shared a few pieces, and even let the boys have one or two.

Every Thursday a woman comes and gives her communion. The local priest comes as well, and they discuss fishing.

She calls my big strong husband, her youngest Grandchild, her “sweetheart.”

Every time we are together we talk about God. We talked about how God always brings us comfort. She shared how he comes even when she wakes up and doesn’t know how she will find happiness in her day. He is there. Giving her a nudge, providing grace for her. She said in 97 years her faith, and her religion is her one constant.

Today we reminded her of a time where she listened to God and followed his lead….

Because once upon a time in the fall of 2001, after 9/11, the nation was deeply affected. We all were shaken and terrified, and the world seemed to tilt in uncertainty. And everyone was changed in a different way- a big nation full of little worlds. Our world had a newborn baby, our first house, and suddenly one income. Dyp worked as a Commercial Real Estate Appraiser, and worked on commission. When 9/11 happened, every financial real estate institution was paralyzed, and his job was not exempt from the impact. He had been hired on as a reserve police officer but it was unpaid. And the work just…stopped. Jonah was four months old in February. We hadn’t had a paycheck in two months. Our small savings had dwindled and we couldn’t afford groceries. He took a job as a security guard on the nights he wasn’t in the reserve academy. He had applied at Safeway, we sold our canoe and other things. We only had two diapers left. We were thinking of going to the Church and asking for assistance. But felt like we didn’t qualify. We had went to dinner with friends and had to pretend that we’d already eaten because we couldn’t even afford to buy a meal out.
So one day– we sat down in our front room with our beautiful Jonah and prayed that God would help us. It was a Saturday, and Dyp had just gotten home from the academy. After praying we bundled up Jonah, and walked around our little neighborhood, a neighborhood we loved and didn’t know if we’d be in much longer, and got the mail. There was a card with name Mother Nature written in the upper left corner. I remember the card had a grey cat on it, and in it Granni wrote that she received a check once a year from the Carpenters Union Grandpa Casey had been a part of. She wrote that God had told her to give us that money. In the card was a check for $700. My husband, who has only teared up in front of me a handful of times in our years together- began to cry. And then I did. And then Jonah did too.

God had provided. So greatly. And we were grateful. So grateful.

After we told her today, she hugged us both and said “That’s Faith for you…”

And it struck me suddenly as we hugged of how desolate a life without that perspective is. How life is truly rich when you have love and faith. And how truly rich you are to have gratitude for both. It doesn’t mean life is easy. And it doesn’t mean that there are always happy ever afters.

But if we trust, we will always be provided for.
Taken care of. By God. And sometimes, if we are blessed enough, through Mother Nature.

And that makes me so happy.