Readers’ Corner |

Readers’ Corner

Earlier this week I saw a white car in the Long’s parking lot with the personalized license plate “Grandma.” I stopped in my tracks and stared at it. How hard must it have been to get “Grandma” when there are millions of grandmas who would kill for that plate? I have a personalized license plate and I got it when they were first available. I wanted some variation on Dixie, but they were ALL taken – already. Even weird spellings like “Dicksie.” Probably people from the South snapped them all up! So, seeing “Grandma” in Nevada County was amazing. I made a note to mention it in a future column.

Then on Thursday, I was walking into our building (which now looks like a war zone) and that same white car whipped into our parking lot. “Grandma” was walking up the steps to The Union.

She was a pretty woman, with long curly black hair singed with a bit of gray. She looked barely old enough to be a “Grandma,” but I knew she had to be. I asked if she could talk to me, and I got to hear an amazing story that I want to tell you.

Her name is Jeannie Tofanelli and she is at Gold Country Lenders. She’s got a bright, friendly smile and an infectious personality. Jeannie told me her mom, Marie Marchard, got her plate in the mid-’70s, the very day the state added an additional letter – making seven – for the plates. “She waited in line to get that plate … the first day,” Jeannie said. By the way, Marie now has three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She gave Jeannie the license plate last September, when Marie gave up driving.

Now comes the amazing part. Jeannie gave up a daughter at birth 34 years ago. She never had any more children. On March 25, 2003, she received a phone call most birth mothers live for – her daughter had found her! She got her adoption papers unsealed and learned Jeannie was her mother. Within three days the pair had exchanged pictures and by the 10th day they had a face-to-face meeting.

Jane Williams, Jeannie’s daughter, lives in Napa with her 2 and 1/2-year-old son, Dante. He’s Jeannie’s only grandchild – and the reason she proudly has the “Grandma” license plate.

Isn’t that wonderful? Life can take the strangest turns. Later in life, Jeannie now has a daughter and a grandson to love, and the “Grandma” plate bequeathed by her mom. If you see her zipping around town, give her a wave to let her know you heard her story – or roll down your window and shout “Hi, Grandma.”


Dixie Redfearn can be reached at 477-4238 or by email at, or by fax at 477-4292.

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