|Grandma in Maui, Hawaii. (Allyson Benavides)|
With her bright smile, soft singing voice, and childlike innocence, my grandmother, Linda Hart, has made a difference in this world simply by finding the silver lining in each cloud that she lays her eyes upon. Despite the many hardships and obstacles she has faced in her lifetime, this remarkable woman remains selfless, happy, and excited for what each new day will bring.
Born on January 1st, Linda lived with her parents, Ruth and Jesse Ingrum, and her sister, Jessica, in Pitman, New Jersey until her senior year in high school. One of her early memories is a time in which she saved up enough money to buy herself a dog, whom she named Blackie. This, honestly, shows her stubbornness and determination, qualities that led her through life even in her early years. Being the daughter of a member of the US Navy, her family was transferred to Norfolk, Virginia because her father was involved in World War II. She finished out her high school career at Granby High School, graduating in the Class of 1956.
|Granby High School (www.carolsutton.net/text/granby_01_1.jpg)|
She attended The College of William and Mary and majored in early childhood education. There she joined a sorority, was the sweetheart of one of the fraternities, and eventually ended up meeting her future husband, Phil Hart.
She and Phil Hart were married in 1962 and had their first daughter, Allyson, two years later. Their second daughter, Lynelle, was born the year after. Her mother founded an elementary school called McLea Day School in Norfolk, and that is where Linda worked as a teacher while Phil worked in the restaurant business. My grandmother, who had wanted to be a doctor even before she considered becoming a teacher, told me once that the two careers are, in fact, incredibly similar because taking care of others is an aspect of both job descriptions. She has always wanted to reach out and help others before herself, and it is this selflessness that I try to emulate in my everyday life.
In 1990, she started running McLea for her mother. Six years later, her mother had many health complications and stopped being able to go into school altogether. Linda decided to stay at home and take care of her mother, so ownership of the school was then passed into the hands of Phil. The dedication that my grandmother showed to her mother throughout this time is admirable, especially when one considers the obstacles she herself faced medically.
Linda Hart was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. She went through many chemotherapy and radiation treatments for this cancer, and yet, she never faltered in making sure that her mother was cared for at home. Selfless and determined, she put her mother before herself many times, and made certain that she was cared for while dealing with the physical and emotional stress of her cancer. In 2000, her mother died, having lived long enough to witness the beginning of the new millennium. 2000 was also the year that Linda’s doctors announced that she was free of all cancer.
However, just two weeks after the announcement, Phil was diagnosed with colon cancer. Linda supported her husband through his long, trying battle with cancer until he died on February 14, 2004.
It is difficult for many to believe that even after all of these hardships, Linda remains in a balance between innocence and wisdom. My numerous memories of her include late night stories about jellybeans, watching her play with her students at McLea, hearing her sing and play the piano at the weekly assemblies, and manners lessons from her at many dinnertimes. However, they also include advice that has never failed me, conversations about life, and the many experiences I have had while watching her determination that have led me here. Writing this paper.
My grandmother admitted to me that the most influential people in her life have been her parents. Though I knew just one of them, her descriptions of their influence on her personality lead me to believe that both were extremely strong and beautiful people because I know that my grandmother is both of those things.
All of these memories and experiences have revealed my grandmother's strength, her selflessness, her wisdom, her innocence, and her love to me. I have watched her handle situations that nobody should ever have to face with poise, elegance, and self-belief beyond anything I have ever seen. She has taught me about manners, about confidence, about grace. Her smile brightens up every room she sets foot in, and her presence is always recognized and appreciated. She is the strongest woman I know.
Whenever I face something especially trying in my life, I look to my grandmother, Linda Hart, as an example. She is the personification of radiance, a beautiful woman, and is forever finding the silver lining not only in her clouds, but in others’ as well.
Frankly, I have found her to be my silver lining in many situations.