Grandma’s Legacy

I’ve been trying for days to write a tribute to Grandma. Searching to put my thoughts and my heart into words.

Grandma’s visitation and funeral was a bittersweet time. Much laughter. Many tears.

It was sweet to remember the Grandma that was – the one that lived a few miles away and always had Frosty root beer, Schwans ice cream and Ding Dongs. Who loved having her grandchildren there and knew the best toys to have around – a wooden swing in the tree out front, a cedar chest full of dress-up clothes, and hay bales to jump on.

She was the grandma who would take you berry-picking, let you help make lunch for the hay crew and ride beside her in the old brown Rambler to deliver it to them in the hay field.

She was the grandma who bedded you down on homemade comforters when you spent the night, who fed you ice cream when you were home sick – even though home was only 5 miles away, and sent you a letter every week when you were at college.

Letters filled with farm news – how many pigs Grandpa worked, how many loads of laundry she did, who was there for coffee, and most importantly – what she made for lunch. Letters that made you both homesick and hungry.

She was the grandma that knew your favorites and when the mashed potatoes ran out before she thought you had enough – she went in the kitchen and made you more.

She was that grandma.

Grandma and momBut as I listened to the memories shared at visitation – I realized that she was so much more than just the wonderful Grandma I remembered.

She was the thirteen year old girl who lost her dad to pneumonia. Who worked her way through college, taught in a one room school and eloped with a younger man (my Grandpa) when her mother wouldn’t let them get married.

She worked beside Grandpa for 72 years.  Together they were a strong team – she helped with farm work and chores, he did the dishes after the meal and swept the floor.  They loved each other and weren’t afraid to show it.

Together they raised four kids, milked cows, raised pigs, sold eggs, put in crops, baled hay, and weathered storms.

Grandma had a zest for life – a determination to not miss out.

She was capable – cooking meals from scratch for years. She served a meal to anyone and everyone that Grandpa invited in – from the feed salesmen to the neighbor stopping by.

She made clothes on a treadle sewing machine – including her daughter’s wedding dresses. And beautiful wool rugs that are still in use today.

As this picture of Grandma grew more clear – another thought surfaced.

All of those things that I can say about Grandma – her zest for life, commitment in marriage, hospitality, homemaking skills –  I could also say about my mom.

The loving environment my mom created for her grand kids – full of dress-up clothes, homemade chocolate sauce on ice cream, laughter and acceptance  – she learned from Grandma.

The many and varied guests around our table growing up – she learned that from Grandma.

Her love and faithfulness to my dad – and not being afraid to show it – and working beside him and with him no matter what job needed to be done – she learned that from Grandma.

The home cooked meals, the home made clothes,  the hard work, and even that zest for life – were all learned from Grandma.

I can see it so clearly now – Grandma’s richest legacy to me was much more than being a wonderful Grandma (and believe me – she was!)

Her greatest gift to me was my mom.

Thank you Grandma.

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