My grandma had dozens of grandchildren and great grandchildren and even a few great-great grandchildren, and yet she made me feel as special as if I were her only one. She did that for all of us. She always remembered our birthdays. She picked out Christmas presents for each one of us as long as she could. She kept our pictures all over her walls even as the space grew smaller when she moved from her home into assisted living and finally to a nursing home. She was always interested in everything we did. She'd collect stories about cute things this one said or did and pass them on to anyone who would listen. She had a great sense of humor and she was incredibly generous. I don't think she ever met a Democrat she didn't like, or at least she wouldn't admit it if she did. For as along as I remember, she collected donkeys. It started when she needed one for a fund raiser and grew from there. Her grandchildren kept a sharp eye out for them whenever they shopped. If she ever got sick of getting them, she never let on to us.
Her home was always open to us. I spent two summers with her while working at the local cannery during college. Those were precious days when I got to hear about what things were like when she was young and how she started teaching before getting married. Mostly though, she listened to me over dinner at the Pizza Hut or ice cream at the Dairy Queen.
She was strong willed and opinionated. I didn't always like that when I was young because her ideas on child rearing were different from my mom's and I liked my mom's better. Now that I have more children (5) then grandma had (4) I agree with her more than my mom, who had just 2.
Although I am sad to have to say good bye, I thank God for giving her to me for so many years. I am blessed to be the granddaughter of Dorothy Heldt.
These are a few of the things I learned from her:
- If you want to have friends, be a friend.
- Your community is what you make of it, get involved.
- If you believe something is important, support it.
- Cribbage is a game of strategy but it can't be won without a little luck.