Article Included with permission from the fine folks at the Sr. Perspective.
Jean Jordahl and Ev Martinson are best friends. They are neighbors, co-conspirators, caretakers, and most importantly, sisters. They are also well-recognized Forada celebrities.
Jean and Ev spent most of the 1950s and 60s as tourists of the Alexandria area, taking trips to the area lakes and spending time in town with friends. In 1968, after nearly two decades of being Alexandria visitors, and Dawson natives, Jean and Ev, along with their husbands, took the plunge decided to buy a lake lot on Maple Lake together.
“We bought it for $1,600 and saved up every penny,” said Ev.
“Our husbands wouldn’t dream of taking out a loan. You never buy anything you don’t have the money for!” laughed Jean.
At that time, the lake lot was used for weekends and summer vacations. It was a place where their families would gather to visit and vacation. And with their two trailers on the same lot, it was easy for their families to interact!
Jean and her husband Carl opted to make the lake their full-time home in July of 1989, and Ev and her husband Clem were close behind, moving to the lake lot they shared in January of 1990.
As years passed, the lake lot continued to be the center of these sisters’ ever-changing families. Children, grandchildren and eventually great grandchildren have made the trek to their beautiful Maple Lake haven to enjoy the beach, the sun, and of course, the fun of spending time with family. “It certainly gets hectic around here when both of our families are visiting. Throughout the years we have seen lots of kids running around here. We love having them around,” shared Ev.
Jean and Ev have both lost their husbands, and they came to know life on their own, together. It was in these years that they truly began to realize how important their relationship as sisters was. When the sunshine fades and the beautiful blue waters of Maple Lake are replaced by frigid ice, they are quick to rely on each other for support, companionship and fun. Both admit that without the support of each other, they wouldn’t be able to continue to live on the lake.
“I don’t know where I would have gone after Carl died if I hadn’t stayed at the lake. But I don’t know if I would have stayed without my sister next door,” Jean admitted.
Ev agreed. “After I lost Clem, I know I would not have stayed at the lake if I was alone.”
The phrase “in sickness and in health” takes on new meaning with these ladies. “We have dinner together, run errands together, play cards together. And when we’re not feeling so great, we take care of each other,” Ev shares. While they each maintain their own privacy in their own home, they certainly value the security of a sister that is just a few steps away can provide.
The closeness these two sisters share is evident to all those around them. Just last year, both Jean and Ev became sick. They went in to see Dr. Luetmer on the same day, at the same time in separate exam rooms. When Dr. Luetmer spoke to Jean, she let her know that her recommendation was that Jean spend some time in the hospital to recover. Jean’s immediate response was “But what about Ev?” Dr. Luetmer assured her that Ev, too, needed to be hospitalized. The sisters shared a hospital room, helped each other through their recovery and closely noted the care each other needed. In addition to providing each other love and support, they were a heartwarming story for those who had the pleasure of caring for them. Dr. Luetmer shared with one of their family members, “I get such a kick out of the two of them! I even mentioned them to some of the other staff members at the clinic. I said I have the two cutest sisters hospitalized together this week. They take such good care of each other!”
With age and illness occasionally catching up to them, some might think that Ev and Jean will take time to rest and relax. But these two take advantage of each day given to them to get out and have a little fun. The two women are well-recognized in Forada, stopping into town for drawings, parties, coffee hours and frequent dinners. In town, they’re known simply as “The Girls.” And they are never identified separately. Their friends, neighbors and family know they are a unit; one doesn’t come without the other. “The Girls” make a point to get to know as many of the residents of the Forada and Maple Lake area. They make note of each person, their family, their home, and anything they might be going through. They offer help and support to anyone they can, whether it be by making hospital visits, or just saying a prayer.
Having dinner in Forada with Jean and Ev is never a quick outing. Barely in the door, they are greeted by friends and stop over for a hello and update on what they may have missed. Often, even an out-of-towner is a familiar face to these sisters. “Everyone asks how we know so many people. But when you’ve been around for 80 years, you’ve met a lot of folks!” Ev laughs as she explains.
“The Girls” have a warm and welcoming smile to share with everyone they meet. Their genuine care and concern for all those around them is well recognized. And the unique relationship they have with each other is admired by many. Because of that and so many other reasons, that Jean and Ev were chosen as the Grand Marshals of the annual Forada Days parade in August of 2009.
No one would have been prouder to be chosen to represent a hometown celebration than Ev and Jean. The two women absolutely glowed with pride. They carefully chose a matching outfit; one that would flatter both of them. And they enjoyed a combined family following of over 40, all in attendance to cheer them on. As the convertible carrying these two amazing women drove by, the entire street, packed with people, stood to applaud them. The girls were humbled and honored to be recognized in such a tremendous way.
Despite their age, Jean and Ev show no sign of slowing down. They’re schedules are as busy as ever, which their families can vouch for.
“It’s almost impossible to get a hold of them; they’re always out doing something!” Mitch, their grandson-in-law jokes. “If there is anything going on within a 30-mile radius, you can be sure they’ll be there!”
“The Girls” are having too much fun to slow down. Their closeness provides them with an energy and enthusiasm for each day that may otherwise have been lost in loneliness. These sisters provide each other with a friend to joke with, a caretaker to rely on, and a sister to bicker with. All the while, enjoying every minute they have together. Even after giving their permission to be profiled in this article, Jean clarified, “I hope this isn’t a tribute article. We’re not gone yet!”
By Jessica Critz, Senior Perspective