When I was a little girl, there were two women who were large in my life although I never had the pleasure to meet them in person. These women, my Omas, lived far across the world from me. I was born and raised in Australia, and my grandmothers lived in Germany. Even though they weren’t part of my daily life, and I never got to sit on their knees or hear their stories, they were every bit as present in my heart as other family members.
My Oma Minna (my father’s mother) would crochet me dresses. Oh the delight to open those parcels. She did this for years on end.
When I was of writing age, I would exchange letters with my Oma Leiselotta. I was about ten or eleven when she died, and that was the first time I ever saw my mother cry. My heart broke that I would never get to meet her.
I keep their photos nearby, and often ‘chat’ with them in the spirit world. I have a kitchen oven hand protector that Oma Leiselotta once crocheted. It’s a simple thing, but it means the world to me, and has survived moving countries a number of times. Even at those times when I have whittled my whole life down to a suitcase or two, that yellow item of Oma-love comes with me.
Perhaps it’s because I didn’t have my Omas in my childhood the way other children have grandmothers, and perhaps it’s because my daughters haven’t seen their Oma since 2005 (she lives in Tasmania, Australia), that I feel even more strongly about wanting to be a living, loving and generous presence in my new granddaughter’s life.
It was such a joy for me to meet our little Sarah Hope a few days ago. What a treasure! I am so in love with her. Throughout Beth’s pregnancy with her, Sarah would visit me in dreams. I remember one dream in particular where I was teaching her to say Oma, and she was repeating it after me.
One of the first things women who are already grandmothers ask me is “what are you called? Granny, Nan, Nana, Nanny, Grandmother?” I proudly say: OMA. For as long as I can remember, it has felt such a special word to me, and I will wear that title with joy for the rest of my days on this earth.
(I treasure this little video clip of me meeting Sarah)
For anyone who knows my husband, Funny Boy Paul, you won’t be surprised to know that he isn’t going to have a regular Grandpa tag! He jokingly said one day that he could be Grandalf! (for those who aren’t familiar with Lord of the Rings, there is an old man in there called Gandalf). Anyway, the name stuck! So, here we are, at a new point in our lives (Eliza leaves home this week for Glasgow University). We’ve become grandparents to gorgeous Sarah, and we’re about to experience life without children in the home.
What adventures await Oma and Grandalf!