Grandma’s Legacy

My sweet Grandma passed away this morning.  The memories, thoughts, and special moments are swimming in my mind and I need to get them written down.  This blog is dedicated to living a life enriched by making wise choices, doing good, and serving others, I would be amiss to not pay tribute to her impact on my life.

Grandma's Legacy
Grandma’s Legacy

Today, while going through my regular activities, I mentioned to my husband that this hurts more than I would have expected.  Grandma hasn’t been a part of our daily lives the past few years, living so far away.  His response and wisdom was, “She was a big part of the bedrock of your life.  She is one of a few people who made significant impact on who you have become as a person.”

He’s right.

Grandma, who signed every card as G.Dart, was the foundation for our family.  GDart sounds so gangsta.  So ahead of her time.

Not only am I so grateful for my loving grandma.  I am reminded again how much love there is in family.  Sometimes, we get busy with life and forget all of the love we have. Cousins, brothers, sisters,  & loved ones are making plans from all parts of the country to be together to pay tribute to her life, her sacrifice, and her love for all of us.  Through phone calls, texts, messages, and other support I am in awe of all the love that abounds in this family.

Talking to my sister/cousin (you know, the kind where she’s the best of both worlds), reminded me that “Family is there to celebrate the very good times with each other and lift each other through the toughest times.”

Family makes the difference. Family knows where you come from.  Family understands that you have potential and can make a difference.  Then family pushes you to do even more than you thought you could.

Her progeny includes attorneys, teachers, scientists, counselors, innovators, and most importantly, some really good people.  The kind you want on your side. It’s incredible to see what they’ve all achieved.

If I had to say, her legacy is easily summed up in: tradition, love, and a lot of work.

Thank you Grandma for the Traditions

My cousin Blaine taught us that “Dart backwards is Trad.”  Grandma was the queen of traditions.

Dart Backwards is Trad
Dart Backwards is Trad

Ask Grandma how she was doing, and her response was always, “Pretty and good.”  Then a wink and a smile.  This girl’s got swagger.

Halloween meant going to Grandma’s house and getting my first real popcorn ball.  If you ate it on the holiday is was nice, chewy and delicious.  If you waited a couple of days it got harder, and harder.  You would have to bite off a chunk and let it warm up in your mouth for a good 20-minutes before you could chew it down.  But it still was delicious.

Grandma always made sure that every child, son-in-law/ daughter-in-law, grandchild, stepchild, step grandchild, step-great-step-something-cousin’s-child knew we were expected to be together on every holiday.  She made that the number one priority, and that whoever was with us was not only welcome, but wanted.

I remember sitting at Thanksgiving tables full of people I’ve never seen before, or since, and she served them with love and that glint in her eye with a smile.  She made pies and pies.  Usually 30 or more every holiday so that everyone would be able to enjoy a nice slice of Thanksgiving pie and still have an entire pie to take home.  That shows her generosity.

Every Christmas Santa came to our family party.  I never knew that it had been arranged months and months in advance with the background info on nearly every child there to make us know that the Santa at Grandma’s party, was the real one.  He would have someone stand in the jingle bells and dance while we sang a couple of carols.  My little girl never got to be part of that tradition.  We’ll have to make it happen.

The first time I ever went “Black Friday Shopping” was with Grandma and the DoFADS (Daughters of Frank and Arlene Dart)  they have cards and everything.  I’m a proud D0D0FAD (Daughter of the Daughter of Frank and Arlene Dart) just haven’t had my card as a proud member of the organization.

Grandma pulled my first tooth.  She was far more gentle that my Mama.  She would look at it and smile and “get that puppy outtathere.”

My love for the mountains started from times at Grandma’s Cabin.  A little slice of heaven near Strawberry Reservoir, some of the best moments of life and family time happened in that little corner of the mountain. She taught us how to spot elk & deer in the mountain, build a fire, burn a marshmallow, and make some slammin’ fried eggs in the morning over an old fashioned fire burning stove.  I can see her sitting on the patio in her t-shirt and an opened flannel shirt sitting and taking in all the beauty and grandeur of nature.  That is when she was in her element.

I remember running around her yard in the irrigation water as she was watering the massive garden.  It was like our own private waterpark.  So cold on my feet in the hot summer sun.  It was like mmmmmagic.

She taught us all about scouting. Sold cookies.  Did service projects.  Did more service projects.  Cooked for 10, 20, 50, or 100 scouts.  She knew how to master the unit box and keep them kids in line.   Generations of scouts learned from G.Dart.  A legend in her own time.

Every President’s Day the DoFADS would go with Grandma for lunch.  It was just one little thing but became a family tradition.  It was about getting together to celebrate and laugh as you would appreciate the loved ones in your life.   That luncheon has gone on every year for 40 years.

On Easter the family would get together for a fun barbecue, they would pull all the kids in the house, close the windows, as my Aunt Linda would make up some excuse to just “get us all together for a few minutes” as the other adults would “hide” all the candy and easter eggs.  The Bit-O-Honeys were never the hot ticket and I still think of my family easter holidays every time I see that stinkin’ candy.

One Easter or Mother’s Day, I remember the hopscotch tournaments starting.  Large women, playing hopscotch, everyone laughing until tears.  You don’t forget something like that.

I saw G.Dart every Tuesday when she would come to my Mama’s beauty shop, in our basement, and get her hair done.  She always came with a bag of ice from her fancy ice maker in the fridge and a loaf of banana bread.

My favorite was watching my aunts, the DoFADS, get together, tell jokes and stories and laugh themselves silly. Grandma would laugh until the tears would fall. They all would.  The stories of raising chinchillas in the basement, traveling in Frank Dart’s car, and countless stories of family get togethers came alive just listening to them. I get that happy vibe inside just thinking about it.

So much love shown

Of all the things I’ve learned from my Gran, these stand out:

  • She had little, but always had something to share.
  • G.Dart showed love by being able to cook, provide for her children and their friends, and grandkids, and friends and continue to give.
  • Grandma was frugal before we knew what it was to be frugal.  My Mom used to complain about all the delicious homemade bread and would ask to buy store bought bread because it tasted better.  For shame.
  • She would can, preserve, and make the garden of vegetables feed her family through the tough winters.  We have forgotten how to do that. I tried to help her once.  Mostly, I was in the way and just hung out with Gram, telling stories and asking more about her life.
  • She had 8 children, and buried 4 of them.  I can only imagine the reunion of all of them together.
  • Every year for my birthday she sends me a card with a crisp $2 bill.  Oh, she does this for her other 21 grandkids, plus their 11 spouses, plus her 26 great grandkids,  too.   It feels like magic.  I have several pristine $2 bills saved up in a drawer that I will not spend.  The crispiness makes it too special.  I’d love to see how many $2 bills she gave away.
  • Every year for her friend’s birthdays, she sends a card with some small gift.  I had no idea she did that for her friends, too.
  • Gram took just the girl cousins to the cabin for our special weekend.  We played games, told jokes, made so much noise and she seemed to love it all.  Until she didn’t.  Then you better shape up quick.  She also took the boy cousins.  I’m sure they didn’t have nearly as much fun.
  • She is a master gardner.  She has a big, beautiful, bloomin’ garden and always shares her bounty.  I tried a garden.  Uh, no dice. I’m going to try again.
  • Nearly every New Year’s Eve all the cousins had a sleep over at Grandma’s house.  It was the first time I remember watching Dick Clark and the countdown, seeing my cousin doing the Safety Dance, and having the most amazing time.
  • She made holidays special. She still has an ornament or gift for every one of us.

She worked through her entire life

Grandma's Legacy of Work
Grandma’s Legacy of Work
  • She had a “spud pit.” Still.  What’s a spud pit?  Some call it a potato cellar, and it’s an underground cellar to hold food storage.  When times were tight, my Grandpa would buy a ton of potatoes (literally, One Ton.  2000 pounds.) of potatoes to feed the family of seven kids through out the winter.  Who does that anymore?  Do they still make them?
  • My Grandma made all her food from scratch.  Since she had a ton of potatoes every winter, (like a ton of potatoes) she had to peel them daily to feed the family.
  • She never fed her kids processed foods.  As I am going through the process of learning to use what’s in my pantry, I can see the value in this (did I mention a ton of potatoes?  I still can’t get my mind around this.) She was not just saving money, she was feeding her children the healthiest choice.
  • She showed her love with food.  She cooks like a master, taking just a few ingredients and whipping up something spectacular to eat.
  • She created meals from seemingly nothing.  Cow syrup, hopscotch, Goulash, Banana Bread, Chinese Casserole, Homemade noodles, and oh!  Thanksgiving.

The five most powerful lessons from Gram:

  • She is tough as nails.  It’s been said she can “Knock you on yer butt with just a look.”
  • Stubborn, bull-headed and loving to a fault.
  • Don’t worry, “She’ll love you back up when it’s time.”
  • We share the same first initial.  One time I saw a beautiful gold “A” on a chain she was wearing. When I mentioned that’s my letter, too, she took it off and gave it to me.  She absolutely refused to have it back.  I was stunned and oh, so shocked at her unbelievable kindness.
  • She was widowed young.  With 5 kids still at home.  With no degree, her tenacity and grit pulled them through.  One day I may understand how she did that.  But I can only imagine.
  • She pulled out almost every one of my teeth when it was time.  I didn’t trust my Mama to do it.  Gram knew how to do it nicely.
  • She waited for her military man.  I know a little about that.  But she waited without the internet.  And that’s a totally different ball game.
  • She fully expects your best.  Every day.  And every family member, grand kid, and friend knows that.
  • She made family come first.  No matter what.

My heart is full of love, gratitude, and a sense of pride to call her my family.  She worked through the struggles, she served others when she could have easily felt sorry for herself, she whined to herself and lifted others.

Tell me now, how has your Grandma enriched your life?

5 Replies to “Grandma’s Legacy”

  1. This is perfect Amy. Ditto to it all.

    Stuffed zucchini and stuffed cabbage. Chinese noodle salad.

    So many things I will miss. But mostly her spunk.

  2. Amy I am so sorry for your loss and happy for your chance to have a Grandma very similar to my own. My noodles are tuff enough to lace work boots and I make pie crust like crackers. She makes my kitchen alive when I’ve got my own grandchildren there all cooking together. Yes we garden and can some , freeze a bit. It was nice to share this moment with you and both Grandmas . Take care of you. Patti H2

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