AUTHOR: Jimmie Lou Watson

I will never forget my grandmother Karolina and her spirit of determination, faith, and love that lived on in my mother, Helen. I feel so blessed to have known these two extraordinary women, and I want to share their story. (More...)
Jimmie Lou Watson
Jimmie Lou Watson

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Book 1

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Her Spirit Lives in Us
Immigrant Mother's Legacy of Love
Musty albums, which Karolina carefully assembled many years ago, are filled with irreplaceable and precious records of some of the events in her life. As I hold these albums now falling apart in my hands, I treasure the old black and white photos she placed there with her own hands. She carefully glued the corners onto the pages, measuring for each photo. Many are small 1” x 1” and 2” x 2” photos.

Karolina kept her little Kodak Brownie camera handy and took hundreds of pictures in her lifetime. In Illinois she snapped loved ones on the steps of her flat and in activities at her children’s homes. In Arizona she photographed activities in her yard, as well as on jaunts around Arizona with family members laughing and talking. They were happy and wanted to remember the events in their lives together. I notice that Grandmother looked happiest when photographed with family and especially with her grandchildren.

I will never forget my grandmother Karolina and her spirit of determination, faith, and love that lived on in my mother, Helen. I feel so blessed to have known these two extraordinary women, and I want to share their story. The generations who did not know them will now know how it all began—where we came from. They will know how the spirit of determination, love, and faith lived in Karolina and her children and lives on in us today.

I feel happy when I think of my grandmother and mother. I remember their love and their calm, gentle manner. Even though we seem insignificant when compared to God’s universe, they understood that we each have unique souls, cherished by Him.

Two events in my life triggered my writing of this book. The first was a card my cousin Linda gave me when Mom passed on into eternity. It states, “She gives us life and teaches us how to live it. Her love will always be a part of all we are. It must be hard to say good-bye to one who meant so much, but just remember that all of your mother’s best qualities live on in you—yours to treasure and share through all the years to come.” This card made me happy to think about the truth of these statements.

The second event was during a conversation with my son. When I said “I wasn’t raised that way,” he looked at me and said, “I have no idea how you were raised.” I was shocked to realize that our lives had been that busy—too busy for me to have shared with my children the wonderful memories I have of my grandmother and mother.

In my research for this book I enjoyed reconnecting with my aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, our children, cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends who knew my grandmother and/or my mother. In talking with them, I felt the warm sense of family unity—the way Karolina and Helen did. I now share what I learned from my interviews, from photos, from my memory, and from the stories Mom told me over the years.

I share the past and the present. I want to continue sharing in the future. The most important thing I can share is the spirit of love and faith my grandmother Karolina shared with us. I’m thankful that her spirit lives on in us today.

I will never forget my grandmother Karolina and her spirit of determination, faith, and love that lived on in my mother, Helen. I feel so blessed to have known these two extraordinary women, and I want to share their story. The generations who did not know them will now know how it all began—where we came from. They will know how the spirit of determination, love, and faith lived in Karolina and her children and lives on in us today.

biography memoir
non-fiction, religion, inspirational, memoir

Book 2

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Book 3

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Book 4

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Book 5

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About Me

Author Portrait
Jimmie Lou Watson holds three education degrees from Arizona State University, including an Education Specialist Degree in Language Arts. In addition to a graduate thesis, she has written educational research and curriculum. Jimmie Lou is recently retired from teaching for the past 40 years in the Scottsdale School District. She and her husband, Jesse, reside in Phoenix, Arizona, and have two grown children, two grandchildren.

Jimmie Lou is recording this anecdotal history not only for family members but for future generations and historians. Her passion is to share her appreciation for the determination, faith, and love demonstrated in the lives of her grandmother Karolina, and her mother Helen, that helped make America a great nation.

Jimmie Lou says, "I’m thankful that their spirit lives on in me and my sisters and brothers. I am energized in all I do as a wife, mother, homemaker, teacher, researcher, gardener, world traveler, and writer. My husband, Jesse, a U. S. Army veteran, and our children, Liz and Zac, also have been touched by my mother’s loving spirit and love of life.

"Like my parents and grandparents, I love and appreciate America. In 1963 I left for eight weeks when I sang for the U. S. Armed Forces in Germany and France with the YMCA Youth Chorus. I enjoyed traveling, but I saw few smiles and there seemed to be a spirit of hopelessness at the time I traveled in the mid ’60s. Living outside of the United States made me really appreciate America for the first time, and I was happy to get back to “one nation under God.”

"An honor for me occurred that same year when I was crowned the first Miss Polonia at the Pulaski Club in Phoenix. For the competition I sang Chopin’s “Zyczenie” (“The Maiden’s Wish”) in Polish, with the expert coaching of Harriet Alexander. I consider holding this title a great privilege in memory of my Polish mother and grandparents.

"When I was in college and my brothers were little, I enjoyed watching them develop our mother’s spirit of creativity and improvisation. Instead of buying toys, I collected boxes of “stuff” they could build with—scraps which would usually be thrown in the trash—bottle tops, pieces of wire, Styrofoam, plastic crates, small boxes, plastic, metal, cardboard, foil, etc. To the box I added paper plates, tape, glue, scissors, and string. With these they could make things using their own creative ideas. They loved it! They made miniature buildings, model houses with furniture, flying saucers with stairs of folded strips of paper, and other creative objects. Like our mother with her “sardine can toys,” they felt a sense of pride and accomplishment in using their imagination and constructing interesting toys on their own.

"I also share in my mother’s spirit of optimism and faith. I have learned to look for the bright side of a situation, and if I can’t find one, to trust God with it. A book that inspires me daily is Streams in the Desert by L. B. Cowman. I rely on the commands and promises of God to be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and thanksgiving let my requests be made known to Him. And the peace which surpasses all comprehension shall guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). Wow, what a promise!"

JLWatson

Testimonials

“I laughed! I cried! This book takes the reader on an incredible journey filled with insight into the lives of both Karolina and Helen. Through trials and tribulations, these women left a legacy of love and inspiration to new generations of spirited individuals. Priceless photographs, which take the reader to another time and place add to the journey. From Czechoslovakia to Arizona, the reader enjoys learning of a rich family heritage filled with countless blessings. It was a joy to read!”
Nancy Hagener, author of “Dance of Defiance”
“This book is a microcosm of Americana during the tumultuous twentieth century. It is a striking example of how fascinating the history of the “average” American family can be. It should motivate every American to compile their own family history before the memories of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations are lost forever.”
Nancy Sliwa, author of “Watchman, What of the Night?”
“Jimmie Lou Watson has captured the essence of preserving her heritage while celebrating her past. In a day where origins are seldom appreciated, “Her Spirit Lives In Us” reinvents the time-honored ceremony of honoring our ancestors. I recommend this book to anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one or searching for a way to document family origins.”
Nancy Lee Hayden, owner/director, Hayden Research Center
"Really enjoyed your book--extremely interesting! This is certainly the story of the struggle and survival of so many immigrants I've known that has never been written down. They were able to live through these experiences because others were in the same boat and they helped each other."
Peter Yurich, Oak Creek, Colorado, historian
"This book is an inspiration to all of us!"
Sally Hayden Nardozzi, calligrapher


"Jimmie Lou Watson's five-generation chronicle of the lives of her maternal grandmother, Karolina Grabiec, and Karolina's descendants is touching and inspirational."
Beth Phillips, "Eagle Eye" editor

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Jimmie Lou Watson
P. O. Box 32872
Phoenix, AZ 85064-2872

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Awards

Total number of awards: 3

AwardDate awardedReason for Award
2011supporter.png2011 Site Supporter 2014-09-19
2011supporter.png2011 Site Supporter 2013-03-05
starauthor.pngStar Author 2010-02-202009 Star Author award honors authors who have provided ongoing support to the PDB.

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