Family Comes First

ST. MARYS — Between homework, softball practices, dance recitals and Girl Scouts, Linda Opperman keeps busy with her granddaughters.

“I like being involved with the kids,” said Opperman, The Evening Leader’s 2012 Mother of the Year. “That’s helping me stay young for one thing. I just like helping out. I like seeing them grow up and helping them grow up to be good kids and keep them on the right track.”

She noted that she has been involved in several of her granddaughters’ activities.

“I’ve been involved with PTO even though I’m Grandma, and I’ve helped at Spring Fest for the last several years,” Opperman said, noting she also helps out with Girls Scouts and attends softball games and dance recitals.

It was because of her dedication to her grandchildren that one of her granddaughters, Makayla Opperman, nominated her in The Evening Leader’s annual contest.

“She’s special to me and she helps me and my sisters with a lot of things,” Makayla said of her grandmother. “She helps with my homework when I’m having trouble with it and helps pay for costumes for dance.”

Opperman said she was surprised to find she had been selected as the Mother of the Year.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I just cried. I was happy and happy for her (Makayla) because she did such a good job.”

In addition to seeing her grandma at all of her activities, Makayla said she enjoys going out to do things with her as well.

“I like to go to the movies and go out to eat with her,” she said. “And I like going over to her house a lot. I go there right after school every day.”

With the amount of time she is able to spend with her granddaughters, Opperman said she has instilled several values in them.

“They should be a friend to everyone and that if they’re friendly and kind to people, they’ll be kind to them,” Opperman said. “If they’re nice to people, people will be friendly back. They’re going to have some ups and downs in life, and I’ve told them that and they know that ... But to just enjoy life, enjoy it while you’re young because you’re not young forever.”

She has also stressed the importance of doing the best they can.

“Do the best that they can do, that’s all I ask of them,” she said. “If you do your best, I’ll be happy with you. I don’t care if your best is a D in class. If that’s the best you can do, then that’s OK, but if you can do better, then do better.”

Makayla said the most important thing she has learned from her grandmother is to not give up.

“She taught me to never give up,” Makayla said. “And she taught me to do the best I can.”

In addition to her four granddaughters in St. Marys, Opperman also has two granddaughters in Columbus.

“I have six granddaughters,” she said. “We have a birthday for one of the girls coming up here, and as soon as she has her birthday, they’ll be ages 10, 9, 8, 7,6, 5.”

Family, Opperman said, is important to her.

“I’m just really happy,” she said. “I have three wonderful children and six great grandkids and a son-in-law and daughter-in-law — they mean everything to me. They’re my family. And I also have my mom — she taught me to be the person that I am, which is hopefully good.”