Vada Hastings: 1902-2005

Received the call tonight I’ve been expecting for 15 years: At 103, Grandma Hastings has passed away. My last remaining grandparent, Vada was born in Castena, Iowa more than a century ago, 100 years before my son. A schoolteacher who lived through the Great Depression, the popularization of cars, radio, television, the internet, two world wars, men walking on the moon, and disco, Vada was the mother of seven children, steadfastly unreligious and politically neutral, a good samaritan, a lifelong gardener, a masterful embroiderer, famous for Sunday waffles and the most amazing rhubarb pie you ever tasted (always homegrown and lovingly baked). Wife of a boxer and carpenter, never allowed to get a driver’s license or own a pet, unflinching in the face of adversity, never had a harsh word for anyone. In retrospect, she was a Classic American Grandmother, though I’ve never identified her that way before. She was just plain old Grandma to us.

Vada stayed healthy and alert until her late 90s. Only in recent years did she become bedridden, and begin to lose her eyesight and hearing. Every year for the last two decades, the refrain has been “Better come to Grandma’s birthday – it could be her last.” But it never was. She never seemed to get sick, never suffered any of the ailments common to such advanced age. She just. Slowed. Down. And eventually, inevitably, faded to zero, winked out, as all humans do, in one way or another.

I did a video interview with her in 2000. Now wanting to dig that up, hear her once again reflecting on her amazing century. May we all have such a ride.

5 Replies to “Vada Hastings: 1902-2005”

  1. Sounds like a lovely lady, and you sound like a lucky guy to have had such a grandmother.

    May light perpetual shine upon her.


  2. I found your site while searching for relatives – genealogy is a passion.

    Was Vada’s husband’s name Chalmars Hastings? If so, Chalmar’s grandfather, Chalmars Miller was a brother to my gggrandfather, Albert.

    Would be willing to share information, if you have an interest in family history.


  3. Lea – Wow, amazing to make contact like this. I asked my mother, and yes, it looks like we’re related! I’ve forwarded her your message, so hopefully she’ll be in touch with you soon.

  4. I found your site while searching for Vada. She was my 2nd cousin 2x removed (her grandfather Dr. William Whittemore Ordway was a brother to my gg grandfather Warren Goodhue Ordway). I don’t have a lot of Ordway information but would be willing to share what I’ve got. I recently found some interesting articles about Doc Ordway….

    Allison – originally from Charter Oak, IA

  5. Hey Allison, wow, this is amazing! Greetings relative :) I’ll pass this on to Vada’s daughter, my mother. She’s in hospital for a while but will hopefully get back to you. Cheers!

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