Grandma Heagy

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

This may be difficult to believe, but my Grandma Ruth is turning 95 years young this weekend.  My grandmother is a wonderful woman.  She grew up in Illinois and moved to Wisconsin where she and my grandfather raised three tough boys.  Not an easy task for anyone, but my 5’2” grandmother wasn’t afraid of anything.  She could tell you stories that would make your stomach turn.  I thought that maybe you’d enjoy hearing a few.

One time, my uncle, Dave, thought he could get away from her, but just before he got out of the door, Grandma threw a fork, puncturing the fatty part of his arm and dangling there.  You didn’t mess with Grandma Ruth!

As the firstborn grandson, I spent a lot of time with Grandma growing up.  Although I had a good heart, I sure got into mischief frequently.  I remember Grandma scolding me and a couple of times, dragging me by the ear and planting me on the couch.

When I was 15, we got a call from Grandma.  Grandpa had cancer and wasn’t doing well.  So, all the families made a trip to Wisconsin to visit them.  When we arrived, the grandkids were excited to find that a fair amount of snow had fallen a few days before.  While the younger children were playing, I built a snow cave and told my brother to wait inside.  My plan was to give him a signal to jump out of the cave and scare the younger grandkids.  I went into the house while Mike waited.  During this time the cave began to give way and came crashing down on him, trapping him beneath the heavy snow.  Moments after the cave-in, I walked out with my family and saw his arm protruding from the mound of snow, flailing back and forth.  I dug as fast as I could to get to his face.  He was blue and his mouth was full of snow.  I had to clear it out with my fingers.  He gasped loudly and screamed at the top of his lungs, the color returning to his face.

My mom took me down to the basement, Grandma following close behind her.  Grandma grabbed me, shaking me and yelling, “What are you doing?!  Your grandpa is dying and here you are trying to kill your brother!”  She was upset and rightfully so.  I couldn’t believe how strong she was.  After giving me a tongue lashing, I was passed along to the “executioner,” my father.  I chuckle about it now, but at the time, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it out alive!

Grandma wasn’t always tough.  I’ll never forget the time that I stayed the night at my mom and dad’s.  It was getting late and I asked if I could lie down.  My parents lived in a two-story house and because I was wheelchair-bound, I slept downstairs on the fold-out couch.  As Mom prepared the bed, I recognized that there was a problem—no one was there who could help her lift my body from the chair to the bed.  That is, no one except for Grandma who was nearing 80, at the time.  Grandma overheard our conversation and said, “I can help!  What do I have to do?”  I replied, “If Mom gets under my arms, then you could get under my knees and lift.” “Okay, everybody on the count of three.”  Grandma braced herself, one my knees on either side of her hips like she was carrying a wheelbarrow.  When I said “three” Mom pulled my upper body out of the chair, which lifted my hind end and shifted the remaining weight to Grandma.  The load proved a bit much and we heard a “toot, toot, toot.”  “Oh, my,” Grandma said, but the toots kept coming.  We were in mid-lift, yet my mom and I couldn’t help but laugh.  Mom was laughing so hard that she was beginning to lost strength.  We were all laughing now, and so hard that we collapsed in a pile on the bed.  We laid there laughing hysterically for at least 10 minutes.  I told Grandma that she and her “motorboat” did a fine job.  Grandma never offered to lift after that, but we still find it hilarious every time the subject is brought up.

Grandma Ruth is the reason why I pursued my art.  She would say, “Ronnie, you could make some money selling your art.”  In fact, she held the only piece of art that I had painted with my hands.  When I was six years old, I painted a crying clown and gave it to my grandma.  When she asked me why the clown was crying, I explained to her it was because he had to move away from his grandma.  45 years later, unbeknownst to me, Grandma returned that precious piece of art, which is now hanging prominently in my living room.  It is one of my greatest possessions.

Grandma had encouraged me, inspired me, and believed in me all of my life.  I’m so grateful that I’ve had her influence for the past 52 years.  May you have many more years of impact on the lives of others.  Grandma Heagy, you rock!…and toot. 🙂

Please follow this link to view the crying clown:

To your inspiration,


Posted in Ron's Thoughts.


  1. She is an amazing, strong and loving woman. She comes from a long line of proud and stubborn Setchell’s. We miss you in Illinois! Happy Birthday, Aunt Ruth!!!

  2. 10/21/13

    Hello Ron,

    Really enjoyed the story of your experiences with Grandma Ruth. I would say that your story is a “hoot;” however, I think the right word is “Toot!”

    It seems to me that what Grandma Ruth had a lot of, is LOVE! The kind of love that is kinda raw and unpolished some time, and yet, the enduring kind, that so many children do not experience in our day and time. Thank you for for sharing your story! It also made me think of when I was little, even before your time, but not Grandma Ruth. There was a Hollywood Western personality, Gabby Hayes. He was popular in the 30’s and 40’s and 50’s. You can see him on Youtube. Any way, he is famous for his gritty sayings, like, ” YOU’RE DARN TOOTEN, BUCK-A-ROOS!
    Ha, maybe THAT is what he meant!

    Oh yes, I did get your note. I am waiting for the DVD of your’s to come. I’m gonna look around to see if I can find a copy of LIFE IS AN ATTITUDE. Maybe someone has it and is selling it on ebay!

    Best wishes, Ron,

    Larry O

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