During our brief trip to Holland, to the magical Efteling, we also visited my Oma. Of course being near her neck-of-the-woods was a huge deciding factor in our decision to go West. I debated about sharing my bittersweet moments with her here in the newsletter. However, I had a long talk with Julie (Julie C. above), and I realized I’m far from alone. Julie made me feel so much less alone by sharing her own life with me, that I’m hoping I can return the favor here.
My Oma is my hero. Even in my earliest memories I remember my complete, total, excitement whenever we went to vist my Oma and Opa. My Opa died way too early when I was only 16. My Oma is still alive and kicking now that I’m 43, and she is 96.
96. That can be a sentence all by itself. It deserves a sentence all by itself. I think of all the memories, moments, experiences I have shared with my Oma, or that she shared with me. It covers nowhere near that 96 years. My Oma has always been filled with love. She is the first to judge, don’t get me wrong, she is headstrong, right and righteous. Despite her strong belief of what is right, she would always, and still, open her arms and hearts to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren regardless of what we had done. Her strength, her forthrightness in speaking out if we did do wrong, and then her ability to love, accept and forgive. That is something I strive to have inside me.
Her nursing home had built a completely new wing since my last visit. I was a little lost, I have no internal compass and my GPS hates me, so I went in to her new home alone while Dave waited in the car. I found her immediately. Sitting in a wheelchair now, new since my last visit as well, she looked smaller, frailer, even more tired and even older. Worse she didn’t recognize me.
She didn’t even want me to hold her hand and curled up inside herself, shut me and the world out, closed her eyes. Then my husband and kids walked in, beaming with happiness, and I just burst into tears. I felt so lost without her there, yet there. It is unbelievably difficult to lose the person you love when they are right there in front of you.
My children comforted me. Reminded me of my blessings, of how many years I had shared with her. How many memories and how much love. As they talked to me, talked to each other, my Oma starting opening her eyes. Looking at us, though not really seeing us. The kids didn’t notice, though Dave did and encourage me with my smile. Slowly she woke up. Not just physically, but mentally.
My Oma lost most of her speech 10 years ago after a pedestrian-vs-car moment. However, I don’t think she knows this. She still talks up a storm, most of it unintelligible words but her facial expressions tell the story. And the story was: give her Dane. Dane, being the amazing trooper that he is, willingly climbed onto her lap. He let her hold him, straighten his clothes, lick his face clean, fuss and chatter away.
The happiness that shone over her entire body, not just her face, reminded me of who she has always been, my Oma. My hero.