A Tribute: Oma

My Oma passed away in the beginning of June. For awhile I didn’t want to write about it here. I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t want to make a public ordeal over my loss and sadness. Now I want to write about Oma though. I don’t want to cry every time I think of her now, and the majority of the guilt I felt at first has gone. Now I just find myself remembering things.

My mom traveled to Holland for the funeral and to help Opa attempt to settle into life without his wife of around 50 years. Each of us family members who couldn’t make the trip wrote something for Mom to read at the funeral. This is what I wrote.

This past week and a half has been long. I’m glad it’s over, but it’s not really over. I’m glad I have a wonderful and supportive boyfriend. I’m glad I can support my mom. I’m not glad that the last time I saw my grandmother was two years ago. Distance sucks. I’m not quite sure what else to say right now. I think I’m going to miss my Oma though.

I remember how sometimes as she was fixing dinner, I would wander into the kitchen and stand at the counter. I’d look at all of the meats and cheeses she had out and she would roll up a piece of ham for me into a little tube as a before dinner snack.

She used to fill up these little tubs with water, they were yellow and green and maybe a foot tall at the most I think, and put them on the back terrace. We would play in them while the grown ups sat and talked.
I think lots of things that just appeared around the house had Oma’s hand in them. When we arrived in Holland every summer, the candy tins in the tv room were always filled with me and Ian’s favorite candy bars (Bros for Ian, Milky Way for me). A little white tent with blue trim always sat in the entry way. (I wonder now if that entry way was ever used for entering the house!) Inside the tent, Cobis the doll waited with his other dolly friends for me to play with them.
I remember Oma doing laundry. I’d sit in front of her washer and watch the clothes go round and round through that little porthole of a window. And then she never put things in the dryer. She always hung them outside behind the garage on the clothesline. We’d be playing in the backyard, pushing the kabouter around in the wheelbarrow, and she’d be hanging laundry. And it always smelled so so good. Not one bit like the laundry at home. And yet somehow whenever I smell laundry being done, I think of Oma.
Opa is more of a talker than Oma. He played with us, rough-housed with us, as kids. But Oma was always there with a kind smile and a hug, a really good hug where you could press your face into her chest.
It’s hard to live with regrets and guilt after someone has passed. So what I’m trying to think about is not how I didn’t get to hug her one last time, but how I got to talk to her on skype and how really lucky I was to get to see her face even though she and Opa live so so far away. That is very special. That’s what I’m going to try to remember now.

2 thoughts on “A Tribute: Oma

  1. Julia, I’m so sorry to read this, yet I’m touched. I’ll never forget the last words my grandfather spoke to me: “Thanks for the cookies,” he said. Thinking back, it makes me smile. It reminds me of all the things that inspire me to be who I am. Thank you for sharing this.

    • What amazing and wonderful last words to you. And the power of something so simple as cookies. I think it’s so strange that out of the sadness of a loved one’s death, such positive changes can happen in your life. Bittersweet?

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