"Grandma" Myra shares her story of growing up for March is Reading Month

When Myra Enders was growing up, she lived in a house with no furnace, no television, and no bathroom inside. Every morning she would get out of a bed that she shared with two of her siblings and walk to school barefoot for nearly a mile.

Preschoolers at the Children’s Learning Center in Pontiac stared at the woman they call “Grandma” as she talked about how different the world was when she was growing up.

“I wasn’t always old,” she told the children, who giggled. “I did not always have grey hair and these wrinkles. I used to be a kid and came from a big family.”

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The 82-year-old woman showed black and white pictures of her with her seven siblings, along with other photos chronicling her life as part of a March is Reading Month project through the Foster Grandparent Program of Oakland County, sponsored by the Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan. Myra and “Grandma” Janet Case, who also shared her story with a preschool classroom, are volunteers through the organization.

During the presentation, Myra played a song on a ukulele and talked about how her mother loved to play the piano.

“You don’t have to be an expert to do something,” she told the children. “If you enjoy it, do it!”

Myra grew up in Tennessee and attended a school with one teacher who taught students in first through eighth grade. Big stores like Walmart didn’t exist, and people communicated the good old fashion way – by mail.

As Myra explained how her family looked forward to receiving mail, she walked over to a black mailbox she brought that was stuffed with letters she had written to each child. As she called the preschoolers by name, they waved their hands up in the air with excitement to get what may be for some of them their first piece of mail! 

“You can be anything you want to be no matter your background,” she said. “We were very poor, and I have done many things I. never thought I would be able to do.”

One of those things was graduating from college. Myra was in her 60s and already a grandma when she took classes at Oakland Community College, where she received three degrees. She said she graduated with a with a 3.89 GPA and received an honors cord, which she proudly displayed to the children.

Myra has been a volunteer at Oakland Family Services for 12 years. She lives in Waterford and has three daughters, Alice, 61; Katherine, 58; and Marie, 47.