When sitting vigil beside my grandmother, the pastor came in and recited Psalm 23. This time, the words had a great impact on me. The phrase, “he leadeth me beside still waters”, echoed in my mind in the following months. For many years, I have built a relationship with Alameda creek providing a source of calm and solace. While exploring its infinitely changeable depths, I have thought often of my grandmother. 


She was born Dorothy Vivian Watson in 1917 in the small town of New Diggins, Wisconsin. At the start of the Great Depression, her father died on the job at the lead mine. From that point on, she and hew brothers began working to support the family and food was often scarce.  She worked very, very hard her whole life. Every year, her “vacation” from her job was cleaning her house from top to bottom including washing the walls and emptying all kitchen cabinets.


For fun, Granny loved to get dressed up and dance. She only stopped wearing her high heels in her late 70’s and then only reluctantly. Along with her heels, she loved pink clothing and sparkling jewelry. She was only 5’ tall and then only if you counted her hair, which was in an updo. She had a infectious laugh that made you laugh along. Along with humor, she did have a temper. She used to say that she could flash fire from her green eyes,when someone crossed her. Most knew better than to ever try. 


Granny had a life-long fear of water deeper than her belly button – sure that she would drown. One time, we were all out in a boat on top of a crystal clear lake in northern Wisconsin. The water was deep but so clear we could see the bottom. She looked over the boat’s edge and asked if it was deeper than her belly button. Of course, we all said “no”.   Even though this book is about water, it is ok because it would not be deeper than her knees. As her namesake, I will remember to laugh often and carry on her name.


Dorothy Vivian Gantenbein