As a student at the University of Minnesota to today as a recruiter and entrepreneur I have been very fortunate to meet some very smart people. They may be in academia, public service, business, or politics. Some of them have been street smart. Some have just figured it out by themselves, trial and error.
But there is one person that has made a huge impact on who I am as a person and she had never been in the headlines, never went to college, did not go to high school, or rarely ventured from her small town in west central Minnesota.
Julia Strom is my Grandma. By far one of if not the coolest, smartest, warmest, and funny, caring person I have ever known. A star to a lot of people.
All I want for Christmas this year is ten more minutes with her.
Grandma would have turned 87 last week. She passed away September 10th with my mom, brother, and many of my cousins at her side. She passed peacefully that evening. In the days prior to her passing she was speaking of her brothers and sister, her mom and dad. How she wanted to go home.
I had seen her the weekend before. She knew I was there. I told her I loved her. But I wanted one more chance.
Unfortunately I was on my way back to Minneapolis from the weekend in San Francisco and the Gopher game. That whole weekend I kept asking that she hold on just a little longer. I wanted to see her one last time. 10 more minutes, that’s all I wanted.
What kind of impact did Grandma have? Well for starters she had 3 children, 10 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren, and 2 great great grandchildren. Two of who carry her name, Julia.
She had a thing, a gift, for being one of those people you wanted to be around. Everyone she came in contact with was fond of her. After being around her you felt better.
She loved to laugh and tell stories. She spent many hours with her gardens and flowers. She made the best apple pie. She tried a few times to teach me. It did not go well. Fortunately for me my mom has the knack for it too so maybe one day I can learn the fine art.
A few years ago I said, “Grandma, you sure have seen a lot”. This started a long conversation about how for better and worse the world has changed, about technology changing how we do things, how we do our daily lives.
“Except”, she said, “at the end of the day it’s all about people. That never changes. Taking care of those important to you.”
Best bit of advice I have ever heard.
I look forward to using this “Ten Minutes With” and interviewing leaders in our community about the things they are working on and topics of the day.
But I dearly miss the smartest person I have ever known.