Wonder Women: Meet Theda

Grandma Adams

Have you ever met an trailblazer? I have. Her name is Theda. I call her Grandma.

Theda was born in southern Arizona. At sixteen, she left her small town and moved to Tucson to study civil engineering at the University of Arizona. Grandma was often the only women in her classes. She had to get special permission from the Dean of Women to wear pants during lab classes so she could more easily do the assignments. During her college years, she met a fellow student my grandpa George. World War II started and George went into the Navy. Grandma Theda worked as an engineer. After the war, Grandma lost her job. Theda and George started their family and George decided to go to medical school. Jobs were hard to find for a women with three young kids. She spent several years sewing to help support her young family. During this time, Theda had more children including my dad. When Grandpa George graduated, the family moved back to Arizona so he could start a medical practice.  Tragically, Grandpa George was killed in a car accident a short time after they moved back to Arizona. Grandma was left with six children to raise under the age of 8. She found work as an engineer and began to build and design things. Eventually, she met and married a rancher named Louis. He had three kids from his first marriage.  My Dad has all kinds of stories about the joys and the difficulties of combining two families. Grandma enjoyed projects. She always had something going on whether it was a quilt, canning, learning Spanish to talk to her neighbors or a business endeavor.

I have wonderful childhood memories of Grandma. I am also blessed to have adult memories. As an 18 year old college kid, I would stop by Grandma’s house several times each week on my way home from school.  She would tell me stories and then I’d ask her questions that my parents would have called very rude had they been there. They weren’t there though so I went ahead and asked things like, “Which husband did you like more? and “Did you ever do anything that really messed up your kids?  I think about it now and shake my head at some of my youthful questions.

Over the years, I’ve thought  about Grandma’s answer to my husband question.  She  said, ” Love is wonderful. It’s also complicated and messy. Marriage is good.It’s also complicated and messy. I enjoyed both of my marriages. I loved George very much. He was my heart and soul. I loved Louis too. He brought so much joy and good things into my life. You’re young. When you have more experience as a women, you’ll understand that I don’t have to answer that question. I just need to love and be loved”.

It’s been almost 20 years since that conversation with Grandma in her kitchen. My life is good. It’s also complicated and messy. I’m still discovering the questions in my life that I don’t have to answer. Grandma was right though about love. Sometimes the answer is as simple and as complex as love and be loved.

Theda, my awesome Grandma, was a Wonder Women.