'And I will write… It’s in my blood'

My grandma, Lois Suel Wann, died November 19 at the age of 90. She was a wonderful grandma, and a wonderful great-grandma to my girls. And, she’s the reason I have printer’s ink in my veins. She, too, was a writer. She earned her English degree at the College of St. Catherine (and met her future husband, my grandpa, St. Thomas student Eugene Wann, while at college). Her love of printer’s ink came from her father, Arthur J. Suel. She followed in his footsteps to become the editor of The New Prague Times, a role she held for many years, during a time when men dominated the newspaper business. One of my favorite stories is how she demanded to be included in the annual Le Sueur County Newspapers meeting, which had been an all-male event--and more of a social gathering than business meeting from what I understand. My grandma eventually won her spot at the meeting and proudly attended the annual meeting for many years. In 2004, I attended my first Le Sueur County Newspapers meeting. A handful of the many women who are actively working for our county’s newspapers were in attendance. One led the meeting. How far we have come in such a relatively short time, thanks to women--like my grandma--who demanded places at meetings. As I write this--my own column--my thoughts take me back to my grade school years when I would walk down to The New Prague Time’s office after school. I would sit by her desk and visit with her about my day and any interesting news brewing in the community. Then, I would watch her type her column: So Lo Notes. Often times, her columns included stories about her family life--including her two sons and grandchildren. Slices of family vacations, birthdays, and anniversaries were shared with readers. Growing up, I sometimes thought it was odd that “strangers” knew about our family adventures, but now, as a columnist and a mom, I get it. If I’m not working, I’m with my family. Those are the two things I do. My girls, Anna and Ellen, and my husband, John, are my first thoughts in the morning and my last at night. So, when I sit down at my computer to write something non-news, my family is the first to fill my column space. As a working mother during a time most mothers stayed home, I can only imagine my grandma’s joy in sharing her family’s adventures... another dimension of herself. I was at my desk on Monday morning, November 19th when my dad called to let me know Grandma had passed. It wasn’t surprising news. She hadn’t been well for a week or so. But... it’s never easy. Tears and a prayer. I was in the middle of writing the Waterville City Council story. How many community news stories, like this one, had my grandma written in her days? How similar-- yet so different--roles we have played in life... A desk full of papers--various news items, meeting times, photos to be scanned, event reminders, and advertisements waiting to be created-- and a 10 a.m. photo/interview didn’t allow for the cry I craved. I stepped outside for awhile, then, did what I know my grandma would have done. I wrote the news. My grandma was a classy, fun, kind, and wonderful person, who was always saving stray animals (of all varieties), making family Christmas Eve celebrations special, offering refreshments and snacks, and taking pictures. Always taking pictures. And visiting. A chat over a glass of soda and a cookie with Grandma always made the day better. I’m grateful to have had such amazing grandparents. They were constant, loving role models in my life, and now, that they are gone, I know my role. I will continue to share their values, stories, and photos-- our family history--with my girls. And, I will write. After all, it’s in my blood. Thanks, Grandma.