Most of us grow up with someone to look up to: someone we admire for all the things they do for us, or the things they’ve done for others, or for accomplishing things that we want for ourselves. I just happen to be so lucky to have that someone be a person that has not only been in and around my life forever, but also help raise me. 

For me, that person is my Oma.

For those that don’t know me personally, or understand German, Oma is my grandma; she’s my dad’s mom. And she’s already lived a long, eventful life.

For one thing, she was born in Germany in 1929. And on top of that, she was born exactly eighty-nine years ago today. Yep; today’s her birthday. Besides having lived through the second World War pretty up close as a child, she lost her father before she can even remember, flew over to America with her first husband and my Aunt Margarete in a suitcase (while also pregnant with my Uncle Charlie), dealt with divorce, fell in love with (and married) a biracial man in the 1960s…and became a widow before she even turned sixty herself.

So I guess you can assume that she’s had some hardships…and that’s just saying without my giving you any small details about her life.

On the outside looking in, Oma is a cold woman—that’s the German in her. She’s old, and even though she’s really cool, she’s very traditional. So, she understands a lot more than she leads on, but she doesn’t necessarily agree with everything. And I feel like that’s how a lot of people who don’t know her look at her.

But having been raised by her, I know differently. For one thing, she’s not the most outspoken person; if she feels a certain way, you might feel it in the air—but she doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so she doesn’t say much. Also, she shows her love in her actions; she’s not very vocal about it, but she makes sure that she takes care of everyone around her.

She’s the first person to have taken me to Disney, and the first person I’d see after school almost every day for thirteen years. She’s kept basically everything we’ve ever made for her; she even has things that my Aunt Margarete, who’s a grandmother herself, made when she was a kid.

And she’s really crafty. She’s been knitting and crocheting probably since before I was even born, and she used to sew all the time, and make and fix clothing. And you can still find her every now and then on the couch, making the next pregnant woman she knows a blanket, bonnet and jacket set.

I like to think that I get my craftiness from her.

I honestly have no idea what kind of person I would be if I didn’t have her in my life. So many kids don’t get to have a solid relationship, or even meet, their grandparents—and here I am, lucky enough to still have her around. I used to tell her all the time that she’s going to live all the way to a hundred, and you know what? She just might.

Growing up, I always had this insane idea that she’d be around long enough to meet one of my own kids. I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous because I’m not going to be a mother anytime soon, but hey, you never know.

Even though I’ve gotten all this time with her, time that a lot of kids could only wish for, I feel like I haven’t learned enough yet. Enough about her, or the life she remembers before kids and grandkids, or about what she thinks about everything. That’s one thing that I regretted from Nanny, my maternal grandmother: I feel like I didn’t utilize my time as efficiently as I could have. Hell, I still need to learn how to perfect Oma’s spaetzle and homemade macaroni and cheese. Nobody can make those things like she can!

I wish I knew what I love most about her, because I really don’t. I love that she basically introduced me to art; because of her, I know how to crochet, sew by hand, and make a hat out of some newspaper. I love that she was the person that took me to Disney for my first time, and that she made me Cinderella’s ball gown by hand. I love that she got me into Andrea Bocelli, André Rieu, and Dancing with the Stars.

Speaking of which, I love how much she appreciates dance, even though she doesn’t anymore. I love that I can find her on a Saturday night watching Mollie B’s Polka Party, and go on and on about how great of a dancer my Opa was (especially at waltz). I love that she loves to talk him up, still to this day.

Truly, I admire everything about her. She is everything I want to be: strong, selfless, loving, and wise. In my eyes, she really is one of a kind. I just hope that someday, somebody will look up to me the way I look up to her. Hands down, she’s my MVP.

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Prompt: Who is the most valuable person in your life? Describe that person in as great detail as you can muster and most importantly, tell us why you cherish that person.

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