Roxanne Henke

Inspired Living: October 2021

When my husband and I got married, even though we were mostly broke, we felt like we had it made. We spent the first four years of our marriage working as “dorm parents” in a high-rise at North Dakota State University. The job included a spacious furnished apartment, three meals a day at the dining center (that’s right, I didn’t have to cook for four years!) and full health benefits, in addition to a salary. The only expense we had was long-distance phone calls.



On one of my casual walks down “my” aisle, I saw a woman standing by the table, holding a copy of my book, reading the back cover. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. “I wrote that book,” I blurted. I went on to tell her about the book, how this conference was where it had all happened, how excited I was to have my first book published, and who knows what else. Probably that I was from small-town North Dakota and things like this don’t happen often.

“I guess I’ll buy it,” she said.

“Thank you!” I was still gushing as she walked away.



Oh, we high school girls had our methods of circumventing the rules. If made to kneel (this sounds SO archaic now), we’d pull in our (mostly nonexistent) tummies and push our skirt down as far as we possibly could to pass the step test. The alternative was to wear a longer skirt to school and roll up the waistband as much as we dared. If questioned, all we had to do was unroll and kneel – test passed.

Getting back to the bell-bottomed pants – we weren’t allowed to wear those to school at all. Even to basketball games after school, it was skirts and dresses only.



Frustrated, but as politely as possible, I approached again and said, “My husband and I are paying for this reception, could you please play some oldies?” He nodded more earnestly this time. I walked to the edge of the dance floor and stood beside my young niece. Not one tune seemed to change. I gave up.

A new song started and my niece screamed, “Finally! Something from this decade!”

It took a few beats, but I finally realized that to the young DJ, songs from the 1980s (not earlier decades) were “the oldies.”

Roxanne Henke

A Roundabout Way to Easter

I’m going to be blunt: Easter has always felt a bit cold and hollow to me.

There, I said it. Now, let me explain. My dad passed away the day after Easter in April 1971. I remember our minister coming to the house and making what I’m sure he felt would be a comforting analogy that there was something “fitting” about my dad passing away at Easter, the time of resurrection. Even though I was only 17, intellectually I “got it,” but that thought didn’t fill the hole that felt as if my heart had quit beating in its usual rhythm.



“Go for a walk,” I tell myself. I sigh. I feel lazy. Tired. “Nah,” I answer back.

“A little walk is better than no walk.” That darn conscience of mine is so smart.

I tie my tennis shoes and step outside, telling myself that today I will do my “short walk.” I have three paths plotted out; two of them are 2 to 5 miles. One is maybe 1 mile. That’s the one I’m doing today. Until I get to the short-walk turn. Gosh, I don’t want to stop. It’s a beautiful day. It feels so good to be outside and moving. So, I keep going and do a “long walk” instead. Yay, me!

Dani Gilseth, left, Aimee Hanson and Dori Walter comprise the mother-daughter-sister team that owns and operates Grateful Cratefulls, a Pride of Dakota member and gift-giving business in West Fargo.  Photos by NDAREC/Liza Kessel


It’s the “benefit” of the Midwest tradition and definition. When one of their own falls down – be it from a life-altering accident, a devastating fire or a dreaded cancer diagnosis – North Dakotans have developed a reputation for helping neighbors get back on their feet.

After a mother-daughter-sister team experienced that giving spirit and North Dakota kindness firsthand through a family member’s illness, inspiration struck. In short order, their new business venture, Grateful Cratefulls, was launched.