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For Evelyn, With Love

For Evelyn, With Love

I've been having a creative block. From the moment I saw photos of the truck, I knew it would need a name. I tossed around ideas but nothing really fit. I put it out of my mind and decided to come back to it when something felt right.

The ins and outs of life, the kids, and truck projects have made the past few months fly by. Naming the truck didn't feel important. Until now.

On March 10, I drove the 20 some miles from Bellevue to Dubuque, heartbroken. My 93 year-old, great-grandma, Evelyn, had been in the hospital for a few days and it seemed the time to say goodbye was rapidly approaching. 

I understand that 93 years is a long life to live, but what you have to understand is that this woman was relentless. Ever since I can remember, she's been forewarning us that she might not live long enough to see (insert upcoming milestone or holiday here.) Like my high school graduation. Next Christmas. So and so's wedding, and on and on. Milestone after milestone. Holiday after holiday. She was there. A constant, unwavering, fixture of our family. 

In 1942, and in the middle of WWII, she moved to California where she worked at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank. She welded and riveted P38 Lightning airplanes, becoming a real-life 'Rosie the Riveter'. It's only fitting that during that time she drove a Harley to and from work each day. In fact, a picture of her riding that motorcycle hangs in the Milwaukee Harley Davidson headquarters. It's one of my favorite photos of her. 

She went on to marry my grandpa Ray and have 7 children. They moved many, many, many times and remodeled and redecorated dozens of homes. This woman loved a project. 

She painted, sewed, quilted, and did anything creative she could think of. When I went to college to pursue a career in art and design, I can remember her telling me the story of when she applied to an art school from an advertisement she saw. Ultimately, that wasn't the path she went down in life and the details of that story are fuzzy to me now. What I can picture clearly however, is the twinkle in her eyes when she told it and the immense sense of pride I felt for being so much like her. That connection I'll never forget.

In the last few years, her creativity didn't dwindle. She kept busy quilting a blanket for each of her grandkids and great grandkids, a hobby that eventually manifested into sewing teddy bears, painting pictures of animals, and so on. (In fact she became so fervant in creating the teddy bears, she used anything she could find to make them. Including a blanket that my grandma, her daughter, left lying on the couch. She liked the material so she went for it!) Each time we visited, we were sent home with arms full of something she had lovingly created.

As I was driving and thinking of all of this, I realized fully for the first time how much of a connection I felt with her. She shared a passion for the same things I loved. For the first time, I saw so much of her in me. 

In that 30 minute drive, I realized that this dream of mine to open the truck was a seed that was planted long before I even imagined it. It was something I had inherited. A (crazy) obsession to redecorate my home over and over - something she was notorious for doing. To be a creative problem solver. To take on whatever I set my mind to, no matter the obstacles.

I remember once telling her if I ever had a daughter, I'd love to name her Evelyn. I also remember her shaking her head and laughing, asking me why I'd ever want to name a baby that? "Why not?" I asked. "I love that name." She'd shake her head again and say she didn't like it but that when she was younger they'd called her Evy and she was alright with that. Well, I did go on to have a daughter, but we didn't name her Evelyn or Evy. The name was too popular at the time and it just didn't feel right. But driving down the road I realized that my new baby, this business, would require the same ferocity that my sweet, 93 year-old grandma lived her life with. I knew that I was starting a dream that she would be proud of, and I knew I was able to do it because of her. 

She passed away just 2 days after that long, yet short, drive. The creative, motorcycle driving, 'Rosie the Riveter', was gone. But she left behind parts of herself that are so much a part of me. 

I've finally decided that if I'm ever to give a name to this truck, it needs to be something meaningful. Evelyn, or Evy if she had her way, seems about right.

So here's to you, grandma. This crazy dream of mine, this journey I'm on - is for Evelyn, with love.


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