Isn't it strange how you can be in a certain place and suddenly smell something that brings back a flood of memories about a special person in your life, a happy memory or a beautiful part of your past? This happens to me often and brings back special memories of my father, my Opa & Oma.
I've written before about Oma but only tidbits of information for example, sharing her famous "Onion Cake" Recipe. There are other recipes that I'm sure I have tucked away in special cookbooks. I have a couple of her kitchen gadgets that I cherish and feel one with her as I use them. Then, there is the Hoya houseplant that my mom recently gave me that was originally Oma's.. That houseplant trumps all the other houseplants in my collection for sure.
Oma. How I do miss her. She was one of those special people that taught you right from wrong, you cried about or hid behind your parents legs from when you were being scolded or even ran to when you needed protection or love. She was every bit German and portrayed the typical hard working housewife, mother, grandmother, gardener, chef, and a gamut of other tributes.
I realize now how special it was to have her live only one street away from me when I was growing up. My brothers and I would often cut through the neighbors yards to go visit her and my Opa. We could usually find her in her orchard, in the vegetable or rose garden tending to her wonderful plants. If she wasn't there then you could bet she was in her kitchen cooking up something that always smelled delicious. Like my mother, there was no getting around "just tasting your dinner as of course we'd like it". I remember her red and white checkered cloth table clothes, the corner cabinet that had beer steins neatly stacked behind the glass door. The laundry room where there was a cabinet that held her brooms and this one particular brown leather bag with loose change hanging from a string that I found fascinating for some reason. The smell alone attracted me to it for some reason.
What fun we had running through her sprinkler on the hot summer days after weeding or picking apples. Sleepovers were always a little bit scary for me as I could never get used to the whistling radiator that cranked out the heat best in the bathroom. The smell in the bathroom was a combination of Opa's shaving soap, Jean Nate dusting powder, and of course No. 4711 perfume.
When the clock struck an hour or half hour mark you could always tell by the silly music that the numerous cuckoo clocks hanging from the walls sung, and of course, the reminder of "Don't touch the chains that set the clocks!"
German music, WOR Radio with John Gambling, Hee Haw, Lawrence Welk, The Edge of Night and Guiding Light Soap Operas, all of these are special memories of sounds heard, TV shows watched or radio listened too.
Later, after Opa passed away, and Oma's house was sold and Mom & Dad moved, along came Oma, maybe not as spry as she once was but still a loving Oma all the same. By this time arthritis was starting to win the battle and her movements were limited and rarely pain free, however her pursuit to be a family contributor was obvious as she would sit and cut up vegetables, peel potatoes, fold laundry or try her hand at crafts made from wash rags that had pretty edges sewn around them. To this day, I remember sitting in Oma's room and playing the occasional game of Memory with her or plucking the hairs off around her chin that aggravated her so. In fact there was rarely a time when you wouldn't see her clutching a tissue in one hand and a tweezer in the other as the years went by.
After some time it was evident that my Mom could not provide the care that she had so lovingly provided because Oma needed specialized care. A painful decision was made to move Oma to a nursing home. Being an only child I could only imagine how difficult this decision was for my mother.
Oma spent the last years in the nursing home with frequent visits from my mom and my family. Her legs and feet swelled, her mobility was limited to walking with a walker and then only in a wheelchair but her conversation was sharp as pin asking "why didn't you visit last week?" Lap blankets, crocheted stretchy slippers & pretty house dresses were her usual apparel at any given moment.
Have you ever had the sudden urge to visit someone completely out of the blue? This was what happened to me on the way home from a party that I had gone to with my husband and daughter. We were traveling somewhat close to the nursing home and I said, "Hey, let's go visit Oma". When we walked in and saw the nurse standing at her doorway with a concerned look upon her face, I knew that something greater had brought me there that day. I walked in and found Oma laying in her bed and had a stroke not five minutes before I arrived. Oma's breathing was labored but she knew I was there as she grasped my hand, gave it a big squeeze, then the most miraculous thing happened. Her hand went from a crippled, clutched position that it had been in for years, to a flat, stretched out open hand as if her pain was taken completely away. With that she said, "I love you" and her pain ended.
To this day I consider myself very lucky to have been by her side during those final moments and I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else in the world that day. I have such fine memories of Oma and miss her greatly. I love it when I hear my own daughters call my mother Oma as it makes my heart beat warmer and brings back so many memories.
If I had one wish, it would be for Oma to spend an entire day with me now, working side by side in my garden, listening to her memories of gardening and teaching me more. How I wish that I would meet her now, in my current age and recapture all the special moments that made her the woman I fondly called "Oma".