My Oma

A week and a half ago my grandma, whom I have always referred to as “Oma” (the German word for grandma), passed away in her sleep. She was 93 years old. I feel pretty fortunate to have had her in my life as long as I did, she was truly one of the most beautiful and loving people I’ve ever met.

During her memorial, my family asked if I would give the eulogy for her. I’m quite honored to get to share my view of Oma and the relationship that we shared, so of course I said yes. Since then a few family members have asked me for my notes on what I said, so I’m posting it here. Liz encouraged me to talk about Oma’s character, and I agreed.

One of the first things that you would notice about Oma was that she had a spark about her that was truly unique. When she met you for the first time, she liked you instantly. She was warm and friendly and inviting right from the start. She didn’t need to know anything about your background or where you were from or what your interests were. It was enough for her that you were present. As her grandson I got to witness this in public, in her home, at church… this was jush how she treated people everywhere she went.

Oma was always happiest when hosting. All of my earliest memories of the family were in her house on Westmoreland. Every Christmas, Thanksgiving, wedding or baby shower, Easter… we always went to Oma’s house. Before the event she would spend an entire day in the kitchen, making a roast, baking pies and making every side dish imaginable. Whether her married family or her parents & siblings, every room was filled with people. And Oma just beamed the entire time. She’d float from room to room visiting with people, making sure that everyone had a drink or piece of cake. She loved hosting.

Oma had a servant’s heart. She loved serving people. Professionally she was a manager at Frost Bros, but I can tell you that the thing that she loved about that job was that she got to help customers. If you came to her house she’d offer you a sandwich, and if you didn’t want that she’d offer you a slice of pie, and if you didn’t want that then she’d make you a cup of coffee. You just weren’t going to leave her house without something in your stomach, which I always loved because the always had sweets. She loved serving people.

I believe that Oma’s most salient quality is that she was loving. Everything that I’ve said so far indicates a loving person, but the place that this becomes most visible is in her marriage. She loved her husband, my Opa.

A quick story. When I was younger I once had an assignment in which I had to interview someone and then write a report, so I decided to interview Oma. She told me about growing up in Fredericksburg and school in Austin, etc. I asked her how she met Opa, and she told me that she met him on a blind date, and that they were married a few weeks after. I said, “Wow! That must have been some date! Tell me about that.” She told me that one of her girlfriends set her up on this date. Opa picked her up and took her to a BBQ restaurant in Austin called the Bloody Bucket. Now, there is no way that I believe that there was ever any restaurant called the Bloody Bucket. But, going with it for a moment, it strains the imagination that this could be the place that a girl gets swept off of her feet. Oma stuck to this story for the rest of her life. I have asked her about this many times over the years, and she always proclaimed the Bloody Bucket.

Whatever I beileve about how they met, we know that she really did cherish Opa. In his later years my Opa had Alzheimer’s, which meant that he needed attention around the clock. Oma never faltered. While holding a full time job she took care of him, and she served Opa joyfully. She never took pity on herself or wished for another life. She loved him just as she vowed to. And we know that she would have loved the opportunity to care for him until she expired, because in the 25 years since his passing there has never been one hint of regret. Every time she spoke of Opa it was “how handsome he was” or “he loved all of you so much” or “he would take me dancing…”. She would fall in love with him all over again right there before your eyes.

My favorite memories of Oma are laughing with her. She always loved to laugh. I would say something witty or teasing, and we would either start laughing, or she would play off of it and make it even funnier.

When we were moving her into Esplanade Gardens (her retirement home), the whole family was there, Larry & Pat, Mom, Phil, my brothers. Oma had a heavy heart that day, but she was looking for the good in the situation. She was a real trooper. As we were bringing boxes and furniture in, we’d walk past the residents, and they’d say hello or welcome Oma to the community. I noticed that some of the men would stand up a little straighter or smile real big at Oma, and I just remember thinking “Good grief, settle down.” A few moments later we were back in Oma’s room, and I made the comment “Oma, I see all these men making eyes at you. I don’t want to hear any stories about you dating a man.” She looked at me and said, “Okay, I won’t tell you.” I have dozens of memories similar to this one.

Oma was one of the most beautiful people that I’m sure I’ll ever know, and I miss her terribly. I’m so glad that I got to give the eulogy at her service because it prompted me to go through all of my memories of her. I’ll hold on to them for the rest of my life.

3 replies on “My Oma”

  1. Chris,
    I was so sorry to hear about your grandmother. I wish I could have met her. What wonderful memories you have of her and what a cherished legacy you have of her in you. All those qualities you spoke of in her, I see in you. So, you really will have her for the rest of your life.

  2. Chris, I recall hearing you talk about your Oma a few times and they were funny stories you shared. I enjoyed reading this.

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