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What makes Esther happy? Cooking!

This week I spent a pleasant hour with Esther Dalvang who is living under our big roof for a short time while she gains strength after having pneumonia.

Esther was born on a farm north of Verndale in 1918 to Raymond and Sarah Young. After graduating from high school, one of the first jobs she had was as a waitress in a cafe in Walker. When her father got sick she had to go home to help with the farm.

The way Esther met Marvin Dalvang still rates a smile. They were both guests at the home of a mutual friend, who was Marvin's girlfriend.

The next week found Marvin knocking on Esther's door, wouldn't you know it? When her friend found another beau it eased Esther's conscience for stealing Marvin.

They were married in 1942 and moved to Verndale where Marvin worked in a feed store until they bought a farm. He liked to fish, both summer and winter, as well as go hunting. They farmed for 38 years.

Marvin sold Pioneer Seed Corn along with his farming, which won the Dalvangs trips to Jamaica, Hawaii and a Caribbean Cruise. In the later years, they wintered in California. Marvin died at age 90. They have three children.

Esther doesn't recall ever even dreaming of being anything other than the wife of a farmer. Being independent, watching what they worked for grow, as with crops and animals, attracted her.

Esther's hobby is cooking. She was the happiest making a great meal for her family or for company. She liked to entertain and having a wide span of friends and family to cook for pleased her no end. She liked company.

Esther moved here from an apartment in Humphrey Manor. She is not sure yet what the future holds for her. Life has been good. She doesn't expect it to change now.

After finishing this story of another content, satisfied Minnesota farm family, I was curious. Was this rural part of Minnesota especially blessed, having so many folks who did not want to live long-term anywhere else?

I could not find exactly why it was true. Facts that did show up were that in the span of 50 happiest nations, the United States is eighth. Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Iceland and the Bahamas were among those ahead of us.

In Denmark, holding a comfortable lead, there are very few alcohol problems, all education is free, and homelessness is not seen as a problem. For 2008, the unemployment rate was only 4.3 percent.

Other research claims older people are more content than younger folks because they know how fast time flies and are more apt to weed out things that don't count. Having a single family goal, like making a success of farming, is a great incentive for togetherness and unity. It is a tie that binds.

In almost every elderly person there is a young body crying out, "What happened?"