My grandmother, Helen Ruth VanWinkle, was born in a small mountain town of Ezel, KY on July 18, 1928. She always had a feisty way about her and even though she was second to the youngest out of seven children, she always found a way to stand out from a crowd.
Helen Ruth Van Winkle, is not only my grandmother, but she has always been my rock, my confidant, my advisor, my cheerleader, my traveling partner, my cook, but above all this, Granna has and will always be my very Best Friend. Back when I was in college, my friends never understood why I hung out with my grandmother all the time. To me, she was so much fun, understood me and gave me kick butt advice about love, friendships, relationships, work, and pretty much life in general and the way to live with happiness. While she was thrown some huge curve balls her way with the car accident that killed her husband and my grandfather, Earl G. Van Winkle, in 1983, and the death of her son and my uncle, David, who died of osteo-sarcoma cancer in 1999, she continued to live with hope, an open heart and enough love to fill entire concert stadium. Granna never really got down and when she was faced with the most traumatic events in her life, she was always the cheerleader and positive person for those she surrounded herself with.
She has been active by square dancing the majority of her life, doing water aerobics for many years at the YMCA, walking, mowing her seven acres on her farm and dancing at the drop of a hat. She is as sassy as they come with her willing to have fun and try anything once or twice. She does not allow her young age of 86 to define who she is as a person, in fact, she has embraced her age and is enjoying her best years today in the here and now.
As she says, you can choose to die here on earth or get out there and make something of the life you have left to live. She has embraced this concept and today she is an international icon. Welcome, Baddiewinkle, a concept and persona developed by my very own grandmother, Granna and my oldest daughter, Kennedy. While I was away working on an assignment as I actually do run a nursing home for people who are much younger than her, she and my daughter decided to have some fun and opened a Twitter account for my grandmother. The photos and captions went literally viral overnight, and the idea of Baddiewinkle came alive. Now the world gets to experience what I have always known as one of the most special people in my life. She can now offer words of wisdom to those like me that needed a boost just at the right time as her timing has always been perfect. Always turned lemons into lemonade and yes she is way cooler than I will ever be, but she is my very best friend and I am lucky enough to call her not only Granna, but the world famous, Baddiewinkle. In one of her most famous photos and captions to date, she is “Praying for the Basics” This phrase comes out of having God provide her with just enough to be happy and she also prays for those that have way too much time on their hands to go around being negative. As she says negativity is like poison, if you want to be happy – it is a conscious decision we all have the right to make. She has chosen to be happy and continues to be the Life of The Party even when she has been dealt with some pretty tragic life circumstances. I hope to be as wonderful someday to my grandchildren and great grandchildren as she has been to her six, but the reality is when they made Helen Ruth, Granna and AKA Baddiewinkle, God truly threw away the mold and said I can only make one of her. She has enough life in her to light up the world as she has been my lighthouse when I am trying to find the safe-haven or the match she has lit under my butt on many occasions speaking fictitiously to get me to realize that life doesn’t give you any guarantees. If you want to live, go out and find your own happiness because it’s there if you want it bad enough!