...I want to wish a special lady a very happy birthday. Today my Grandma Ricks turns 99. WOW! Somedays I can't even imagine what it feels like to turn 47, and yet she has doubled my years and added another lucky seven to that number. She is one of the women I most admire in my life. She raised a family of 8...three girls and 5, yes count them, 5 boys. My grandpa was a farmer and she was the gardener. She grew beautiful flowers and even more wonderful children. She was trained as a nurse. If I ever have health questions about my kids, she is the first one I call. She has climbed Table Rock numersous times, a feat I have yet to accomplish. I guess if she can do it, I should give it a try. Probably before I'm 64. For sure before I'm 99. She is very spunky and has a definite opinion on everything, from what to eat or not eat for breakfast to how many quilts should be on her bed. She is a bit of a health food fanatic, and is always willing to share her knowledge on the 'latest and greatest' healing herbs and potions. She would have made a great teacher at Hogwarts! She is a lover of animals, which made the farm the perfect place for her to live. Up until two years ago she was still taking care of the cows and their calves and feeding her collection of stray cats...24 in all. Whenever I would go and visit we would sit in the yard with her Book of North American Birds and see how many we could identify. If she went with us on car trips she could always be called upon to identify the flowers that bloomed along the side of the road. My favorite was and still is, 'Indian Paintbrush'. She would also bring snacks to enjoy. Usually saltines and Swiss cheese. Now that's a memory. Most moms don't let kids bring saltines in the car because of the mess, but my grandma never cared much if we made a mess. We were too busy looking at the flowers. I hope her day is fabulous. Just like her. To my Grandma Ricks I say, "Here it is, a red balloon. I think of you and let it go."