When I think of the word ‘courage’, my mind immediately goes to a beautiful woman by the name of Nelda.  Born in 1916, she grew up in New York, the only child in a wealthy family.  She defied her father’s wishes to marry and produce grandchildren by enrolling in Alfred University after she completed her high school education.  She was one of few women at the time to complete a college education and receive her Teaching Degree – with honors.

She met and married her newspaper reporter husband when she was 30, and had 2 children.  She left her teaching position to stay home and raise the children, and was the glue that held her family together when her husband turned out to be a philandering alcoholic.

She showed great poise and dignity in the face of tragedy – she was summoned by her husband’s mistress to come retrieve him when he collapsed in a drunken state.  He died a short time later, leaving her a young widow with two small children to care for.  Against all odds she returned to her first passion – teaching.

She was well loved by her students, soft spoken and always had a kind word for everyone.  When my husband’s mother died a few years later, she was a shoulder to lean on for him and helped keep him on the right path during his teenage years.  She was my father-in-law’s constant companion, and each summer when school was out they would travel to her ancestor’s home of Ireland.  She said those were some of the best days of her life.

I met her when I first moved out to Pennsylvania 12 years ago – she welcomed me with open arms and she was a joy to chat with over a cup of coffee as she regaled me with stories of her childhood and her life.  Even though she wasn’t married to my FIL, we still referred to her as “Nana” with Princess Nagger – she loved PN like her own grandchild, and often thanked me for including her in the ‘family’.  It really was a no-brainer, she was part of the family.

During the last couple of years she maintained her positive attitude and outlook on life even while her very own children stole her money out of her account.  She blamed herself for their ill deeds, assuming that her parenting wasn’t what it should have been.  She was magnanimous in her forgiveness of them, and in spite of having to scrape by, held no malice toward them or anyone, as she still marveled about what a wonderful life she’d had overall.

She always met adversity head-on and with great dignity.  To me, she is courage.  When Princess Nagger was born, she hoped she would still be around when PN started school.  She was.  She had great fun letting Princess Nagger ‘teach’ her what she had learned, and was tickled when Princess Nagger would read her a story.  They adored each other and it showed.

Nelda was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a year or so ago – and made it a point to spend as much time with Princess Nagger as she could, because she wanted to make sure she took advantage of the time she had left to enjoy her honorary grandchild.  Even as her condition worsened, she still remembered Princess Nagger (as ‘The Baby’), and seemed to relish any time she got to spend with her.

Nana Nelda passed away two weeks ago today.  This truly courageous and beautiful woman will sorely be missed.

This Spin Cycle was brought to you in part by another beautiful and courageous woman – Jen from Sprite’s Keeper. Head on over and check out the other courageous spins this week – they are quite inspiring!

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  1. She seems like a wonderful woman and that you were very lucky to have her in your life. How tragic that her last year was spent wrestling with Alzheimer's. I'm glad that you mentioned she still enjoyed Princess Nagger even at the end. You have really honored her with this special tribute.

  2. That gave me goose bumps! What a marvelous tribute!

    I am glad that she got to see PN go to school!

  3. What a wonderful story about a wonderful lady. It sounded like a blessing to have her in your life.

  4. What a beautiful tribute. I am sorry for your loss. The picture is just precious- I love how PN is looking up at her.

  5. I'm so very sorry for your family's loss. She was a very couragous woman. AlZheimers is such a hard disease. My own Grandma had it for 14yrs before it finally took her. hugs and prayers.

  6. Good lady, and her story was well told by you.. My mentor in the specialty steel business taught me many things about steel, and people.. he retired, and died of that disease 5 yrs. later.. At his funeral, his widow disclosed- towards the end, he couldn't remember his own family members, but he would always mention me…
    I'm the mentor now, and I think I understand more about giving your knowledge to someone younger- while you still have it.

  7. Oh my God. I am so sorry to have to read that she's passed. She sounds so lovely! I am happy that PN got to spend time with her and that she was able to be surrounded by people who cared about her even when her own children couldn't seem to leave her things alone. You ARE her family. Beautiful tribue to a beautiful woman. You're linked!

  8. Condolences to you and your family. My father passed away three weeks ago, so I understand the loss you must be feeling. What lovely memories however, for The Princess.

  9. Wow, what a life! I agree with you, she is the definition of courage! How wonderful that she was able to spend time with PN before she died. I'm sorry she has passed but I bet you feel so lucky to have had the opportunity of having her in your lives.

  10. She sounds like an amazing woman. It's amazing to me how strong we can be when we need to. I'm glad you and PN got to know her and am sorry for your loss..

  11. I'm so sorry you lost such a wonderful part of your life. It sounds like she left a lasting impression on your heart, though. Hopefully, PN will have memories of her long into the future.

  12. It must have been great to hear her stories. Her stories of challenges and triumphs are truly inspiring.

  13. I am just so sorry that you lost her recently. I loved hearing about her and the relationship you had and that she had with PN. She does sound like a truly lovely woman.

    That Alzheimer's is horrible.

  14. I'm so sorry to hear about her passing. She sounds like a strong, wonderful person. You and the Princess are lucky to have her in your lives.

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