They made it through 4 children, burying one.

8 grandchildren, burying one,  2 weddings, adding 2 more grandchildren to the brood.

1 great grandson.

His 89th birthday, and her 85th.

65 years of marriage.

I turned the pages of the photo albums last weekend and it was like seeing her for the first time. Grandma Billie, to me, had always been hunched over, using assistance to walk because of what Osteoperosis had done to her spine. Shrinking a foot can't be easy or comfortable but Billie never complained. She was always doing, "Purty good." These pictures showed a woman with impeccable posture, gorgeous skin, a ready smile with her eyes and one not afraid of getting her hands dirty on the farm. It was like meeting her all over again.

I became a member of the Brogla family at Thanksgiving 2006 when Gerard and I were dating and was immediately ushered into the cousin's family picture, no questions asked.
In 2009, Billie needed surgery and none of us thought she would make it through the first surgery, let alone the second. She stunned all of us by making it through both. I now understand that surviving difficult situations was built into Billie's nature. Her tough upbringing and hardiness as a farmer's wife really were just a foreshadowing of the strength she would need for her Last Journey. We went out to dinner together after those successful surgeries to celebrate.

In her last hours, Vernon serenaded Billie with a song that he's sung probably 100 times before. She couldn't respond with her classic smile or the squeeze of a hand this time, but we all know she heard him, the love of her life, sing:

When your old wedding ring was new
And each dream that we dreamed came true,
I remember with pride how we stood side by side
what a beautiful picture you made as my bride.

Even though silver crowns your hair,
I can still see those (black) ringlets there.
Love's old flame is the same
As the day I changed your name.
When your old wedding ring was new.
As things have fallen into place this weekend, after Billie passed Saturday evening, I was given the privilege of writing her obituary for her funeral program, no questions asked. "How do I summarize an 84 year long life when I've only known her for 5 years?" I kept thinking, staring at the cursor on my screen. With the help of Aunt Geralyn, here's what developed from our brainstorm:

Billie Brogla was born September 20, 1926 in Holbrook, Iowa, the daughter of William and Mamie (Jones) Clear. Growing up in Holbrook, Billie first worked as a telephone operator for Western Union in Chicago. She later married Vernon Brogla April 23, 1946 in Iowa City at St. Patrick Catholic Church.
Billie & Vernon were blessed with four children: Cheryl, David (deceased at birth), Gerry, and Geralyn. These children and their families helped celebrate the couple’s 65th anniversary on April 23, 2011. Their marriage, love for the family, and faith in God provided outstanding examples to everyone. The couple operated the family farm, better known as Roseview Farm, named for its 80 rose bushes that once lined its boundaries. Roseview is deemed a Century Farm, having been in the Brogla family for over 100 years. Billie and Vernon built a strong reputation for the Black Angus cattle they raised.
Billie’s disciplined lifestyle started at 4am for a four mile walk before attending daily Mass, completing chores, and visiting the sick and elderly. Billie will always be remembered as a woman of poise, dignity, and common sense. She was often known for her cut-to-the-chase attitude and level-headedness in tough situations. A constant by her husband’s side in the operation of the farm, Billie also enjoyed Vernon’s hobby of restoring Ford Model Ts (1926 & ’27), winning several Grand National awards. They enjoyed dancing every week with their circle of friends, the waltz being their best. Finally, Billie was a member of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Altar & Rosary Society, and the American Angus Auxiliary.
Billie, at the age of 84, died Saturday, April 30, 2011 at Mercy Hospice Iowa City. Serving others posthumously, Billie chose to deed her body to the University of Iowa Deeded Body Program with burial at a later date in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Cosgrove.
Survivors include her husband Vernon; children, Cheryl Brogla-Krupke of Bettendorf, Gerry Brogla (Marty) of Normal, Ill and Geralyn McQuary (John) of  Murfreesboro, TN; sister, Kathleen Driscoll of Williamsburg; grandchildren, Mimi Clark (Adam), Gerard Krupke (Carrie), Lucy Brogla, Cindy Brogla, Garrett Brogla, Shannon McQuary (Amy), Bailey McQuary, Morgan McQuary, and a great-grandson Caden Clark.
Billie was preceded in death by her parents; siblings, Mary, Marguerite, Bonnie, Eileen and John; son David and a granddaughter, Whitney Krupke.

She made it through 4 children, 10 grandchildren, 1 great-grandson, burying two family members no mother should ever have to, birthdays totaling almost 200 years and 65 years of marriage. She did it with style, class, Love and a whole lotta Faith. She made it and she made it look SO good.

Billie, you had a beautiful life, a beautiful death and I'm sure you are dancing up a storm with the Saints gone before us. God bless you and keep you. I hope to be at least half the wife and woman you were and I will do my utmost to take care of and help your family in any way I can. You have brought about change in this family even posthumously that is for GOOD, I pray for that to continue. Thank you for your example and thank you for welcoming me into this wonderful family-no questions asked.