Jean Peterson was born on a farm on the edge of Moritz, S.D. in 1921 to Benjamin and Jessie Hunt. She had one sister.
Jean attended high school in Canby, Minn. That is also where she met John Walter Peterson while they were roller skating. They were married in 1948 and lived on Walter's farm. Jean also graduated from Bemidji State College in 1948. They have two children.
Jean taught in country school in Yellow Medicine County for eight years and 20 years in Verndale. They moved to Wadena in 1981. John died in 1998.
Interesting memories in Jean's life are that before she started school she learned to say the nursery rhymes that came pictured on talcum powder cans. They went to a circus where they saw sea lions.
When Jean worked in a grocery store during the years of rationing, it was hard to tell a family that they were out of Jello, coffee or sugar when she knew there was some in the back room saved for someone else.
Jean tasted her first piece of pie in a restaurant run by Native Americans. It was cherry pie and it had a long black hair in it, wouldn't you know it?
Jean's hobbies were genealogy, family history and photography. They toured in the states, Canada and Mexico. Walter also visited Sweden and Norway.
Now comes thoughts back to Feb. 12, 2011, a day Jean will not likely soon forget.
On that day Jean did the laundry, all but taking clothes out of the last load from the machine in the basement. Not wanting to get her life line wet, she took it from around her neck.
She had taken the first two steps when her feet went out from under her and she lay crumpled on the basement floor. Her first thought was "I am alive!" She was hurting everywhere.
She soon found she could not get up or move her legs. She tried to edge herself along by pushing her elbows into the floor. That did not work, either. Did Jean yell for help? She doesn't think so. She knew help was too far away.
A long night in wintertime on the basement floor faced Jean, who never weighed 100 pounds in her life and in a few weeks would be 90 years old. Her mantra, what she kept telling herself was "I am alive! I am still alive!"
Another long night followed. It was so still, Jean couldn't hear another sound of life around her. At this point nothing hurt anymore. She wasn't hungry or thirsty. She wasn't cold.
She wasn't bleeding anywhere, and praise God, she still said to herself "I am alive!"
On the morning of the third day postman Randy Peterson could jam no more mail in Jean's box. It was full. Had she gone somewhere visiting? He didn't think so, not this time of year. She was a quiet little lady. He couldn't leave without knowing Jean was OK. That's when he found her, crumpled in a heap.
Jean doesn't remember being found, or the ride to the hospital, not even being revived. Her first memory is of being spooned swallows of warm soup. It tasted wonderful!
After a few days in the hospital getting put back on deck she came to Fair Oaks Lodge, where she spent the next two months. From there her kids moved her into one of our apartments. She's my neighbor. There will be no more living beyond where she can get help if she needs it.
Jean's main reason for telling me her story is to emphasis the importance of WEARING THAT LIFE LINE! Wear it in the shower, when you go to bed, and down to take that last load out of the washer. She yearned for hers many times during those long hours on the basement floor.
By the way, Jean was rescued on Valentine's Day. Her Valentine this year came on two legs, took long steps and carried a pack stenciled U.S. MAIL.