A grand way to honor a beloved grandmother Contest: An Ellicott City woman's devotion to her family and community is the subject of a prize-winning essay by her granddaughter.

November 11, 1996|By Dolly Merritt | Dolly Merritt,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Walk into Ruth Evans' kitchen and you'll find her refrigerator door decorated with children's drawings and family photos. After all, what's a grandmother to do but brag about her 12 grandchildren, ranging from 6 to 28 years old?

But recently the tables were turned for the 78-year-old Ellicott City resident, when the eighth of her grandchildren did some bragging of her own -- in an essay that won Evans a state Excellence in Grandparenting award from the Caring Grandparents of America.

The Washington, D.C.-based national organization of 150,000 was started in 1993 by Cathryn Girard to recognize and reward grandparents and to celebrate the experience of being a grandparent. This year, the annual contest received 2,000 entries from 46 states, including 50 from Maryland.

"They were urged to write about a grandparent who was special to them," says Girard. "You know a winner when you see it in terms of what they write. Maryland's winning essay showed that the grandmother has made a difference in that child's life."

Anna Eder, 14, and her sister Angie, 11, learned about the contest in August and both decided to enter their grandmother -- to double her chances of winning.

"It didn't matter which one of us won, as long as our Nannie won," says Anna, a three-time winner of the Sykesville American Legion "Americanism" essay contest.

The girls had forgotten about the contest until September, when Anna received a letter announcing that her essay won.

Anna is the eldest of five siblings and is the daughter of Matthew and Rita Eder, who live in Eldersburg in Carroll County.

"I wrote that anyone can be a grandmother, but not everyone can be a Nannie," says Anna, a 10th-grader at McDonogh School in Baltimore County. "She volunteers her time at the thrift shop; she's always willing to help people out."

Anna also wrote about learning to help others when she accompanies Evans to the Christian Women Thrift Shop in Ellicott City. Evans volunteers two or three times a week at the shop, and several times her grandchildren have pitched in to sort used clothing for the needy.

"They will do whatever jobs we have," Evans says with a laugh. "I put them to work."

Anna earned credits for her school's community service requirement by working with her grandmother. "Nannie always told me to work hard and to go do it," says Anna, an "A" student who received an athletic scholarship to attend McDonogh.

She is a halfback on the girl's varsity soccer team and has received academic awards for mathematics and All-American Scholar honors presented by the National Achievement Academy, an organization that gives scholarships to students.

Evans' willingness to put her family first also was mentioned in the essay. Anna says her grandmother's interest in her grandchildren is reflected in the newspaper articles Evans cuts out practically every day that pertain to their school teams, interests and hobbies.

"She even had cut out an article about how to improve our SAT scores," Anna says.

Anna visits with her grandmother on weekends and during family vacation trips. She remembers holiday gatherings and jumping in piles of autumn leaves at Evans' house.

Anna says her fondest childhood memories are of the time when she and her family lived with her grandmother several years ago.

"Every morning we would come down into the kitchen and Nannie would be doing a crossword puzzle," says Anna. "Now I just love crossword puzzles."

Anna is looking forward to seeing her grandmother every day when her family moves into the house they are building in Carroll County -- a house that Evans will move into, too.

In the meantime, Evans is basking in the words that her grandchildren have said about her.

"We're a mutual admiration society because we love each other," Evans says. "They show me that they care and that makes me feel good and I try to do the same thing."

Anna says she thought her grandmother had a good chance of winning the award, because she deserved it. As she wrote in her essay, "Good deeds go unnoticed except in the eyes of those who love you."

Pub Date: 11/11/96

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