When asked whom I admire, people are often surprised to hear me say my Grandma.

Many values she cherished apply to my life today. My most beloved memories with my Grandma are the summer mornings we spent together. From my home on Brentwood Road, off I’d go to her house on Francis Avenue. After a cinnamon toast treat, we might play with the “Dolls from the Box,” precious china dolls that belonged to my mother. Or we’d sew, with me guiding the material and she working the treadle. But often we’d take a walk in the alley between Francis and Euclaire. It was there that I learned a valuable lesson about being neighborly.

Grandma seemed to know everyone. She was a walking database of personal relationships, recalling names, relatives, religious affiliations, employment, etc. That networking made an impression on me.

One of my grandmother’s favorite holidays is the Fourth of July, and her favorite place to celebrate is at the musical concert. Last July, I attended the concert with her. Her eyes sparkled as she listened to the music and her spirits were renewed as she spoke with Bexley neighbors and friends. As she said, “It just wouldn’t be the Fourth of July” if she couldn’t attend the concert.

She is my mentor and my friend. She is Virginia Bell, and she will celebrate her 100th birthday this coming May.

Adapted from article By Amy Kaiser Spears
Originally published in Historical Herald, March 2009

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