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Olson cared for those who needed her

Inez Olson was born to Claus and Mary Chilberg of rural Aldrich in Todd County in 1916. The Chilbergs were farmers. They had a family of eight girls and one son.

Until she was old enough to strike out on her own, Inez worked at home and for neighbors who needed an extra hand. Inez thinks her interest in helping ailing and elderly people was always there as she took out books concerned with nursing from the library in Brainerd whenever she could.

Inez's first job was as a nurse aide in the Mary Rondorf Home in Staples. She recalled giving its 84 residents ready assistance when needed. She especially recalled the healthy, mostly home-grown fresh food from local gardens. Preserved mixtures were unheard of.

Inez said residents in her care got treated like family. They were usually long-term, so staff had a chance to know them. A resident she hasn't been able to forget was the young fellow in his teens, forever in a vegetative state, due to a broken neck.

Inez married Edward Olson, who worked on the railroad and had a farm. They have two girls. She retired when she was 72 years old, satisfied that she had done all she could for those who needed her. Inez thinks too much recording, such as how much a person eats for each meal, is robbing residents of quality time.

The Olsons traveled to other states to see things that interested them. They vacationed in Florida twice, and spent time in Alaska, which was a fun place to see but she didn't want to live there.

The long-range forecast for small towns, as Inez sees it and time proves it, is that a slow osmosis, not unlike the one claiming the passenger pigeon, is relentlessly taking over and will eventually win.

My most wonderful day last week was my 90th birthday party on Saturday. My kids outdid themselves planning a surpise that day. Even the little ones didn't tell.

For instance, imagine a sister who had a stroke. I still thought of her as a cripple, unable to leave her chair or a walker. Then I was called to the phone with her on the line. We talked a few minutes, me telling her how much I wished she could be here.

The call ended when there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find her standing there. I couldn't believe it!

She flew from Idaho. Yes, she was using a walker. For 5 days we had a great time.