August 10, 2011


I've been avoiding writing this for a while. Every time I came here to do so, I turned away from it at some point. I guess by writing it, I have to deal with it and I just didn't want to deal with it.

My dear grandmother, my Oma, is not doing very well. At all.

It started several years ago. Actually, it started almost 50 years ago when they came to this country. She and her husband and three of their four kids. They came here because her parents came here right after World War II, and she wanted to say goodbye to her parents in person. She thought she was dying back then. Fortunately, she saw more doctors here in the U.S. and instead of dying, they were able to treat her.


Then, about 22 years ago, she went back into the hospital for about a week or so. She had some kind of surgery, but honestly, I'm not sure what it was for (my family is big on not sharing bad news). I just know that my mom and I were staying with my grandfather to help around the house since Oma wasn't there to clean and cook like he was used to.

But, as with every single shitty thing life has thrown my Oma's way, she prevailed.

Then about 10 years ago, she was back in the hospital (it's important to share that neither my Oma or Ota are doctor/hospital people so when either went to one, we all knew it was a big deal). This time it was to get part of her lung removed! In all her years on this earth she had never smoked a cigarette as others including her husband (before the war) and own children smoked, yet here she was with lung cancer.

It was a very difficult surgery for her and it took he a long time to recover, but she did. Because she's Oma.

In the fall of 2005, as I sat at my niece's baby shower, Oma told me that the cancer was back. She told me that she could not endure another surgery, that the first one she had was really hard on her. Ota had passed the year before, she was in her 80s and "lived a long life" and was "old", and she just couldn't endure another surgery.

I remember sitting there trying my hardest not to break down. I sat there, holding my Oma's fragile, wrinkly hand and prayed with all my might that she not die. Ota wouldn't be there when I walked down the aisle or when I had my first child, and I just didn't think I could bear the idea of Oma not being there for either as well. Incredibly selfish thoughts, I know, but these two people were THE most important people in all of my life. The amount of respect, admiration, love I've had for them ... they mean the world to me.

I guess Oma was just warning me because here we are six years later.

Oma was there on my wedding day in 2007. Thankfully. (Ota was there, too. I know he was. I had a small photo of him in a frame that sat right next to us at the head table. My niece held onto it during the ceremony. My cousins and I all had a Highball at the reception to honor him. It was Ota's drink: a Highball with no ice.)

love this one so much

one of my faves of us
i'm all red eyed from trying not to cry- i felt SO blessed to have her there

And Oma was there to hold my baby girl who is named after Oma. (Oma's first name is Lovie's middle name. Ever since I knew I wanted kids, I knew that I would do this should I have a daughter. We didn't share the name with anyone until after Lovie was born. Although Oma wasn't there the day she was born, I was told that she cried when she heard the name and was incredibly moved and touched. It's my absolute honor to have done this; I only wish my husband would've been keen on the name as Lovie's first.)

early Dec 2009- weeks before Lovie's birth. she still didn't know Lovie would be named after her.

one of my fave Lovie pics. she was 3 wks old. Oma was in heaven.

Anyway, I got an email from my mom this morning that was written last night. (My mom actually moved in with my grandparents weeks before my grandfather passed away. He wasn't sick or anything, just old {90}. She wasn't supposed to live with them for long, but then Ota passed away and we couldn't let Oma be alone.) It was sent to me and my two older siblings. In a nutshell, my mom was letting us know that things are not looking well with Oma and that she will be going to the hospital this morning for tests.

We try to visit them once a month. They live about 90 minutes away but it's very important to me that Lovie get as much time with her great grandmother as possible. I've noticed how frail Oma's been getting the last several visits, and my mom has confirmed it with me when she visits us. Oma doesn't eat much; she has no appetite and when she does eat, it takes her an hour to do so. She's tired, she's having a hard time catching her breath. She's forgetful, she's unsteady on her feet.

Mother's Day 2011
All of this was confirmed in the email with the added bonus of going to the hospital and the fact that Oma apparently tells my mom at least once a week that she's "tired of living."

She's "old" (86). She's "tired of living." She's "lived a long life."

I know she will be much happier when she's gone. I do know that. I know she will be reunited, again (they were separated during the war- should've NEVER been able to find each other again!), with Ota and she will be able to tell him of all the babies that have been born, and that Lovie is named after her. I know she will be in a much better place... but... fuck me is this hard.

It was hard 6 years ago when I lost Ota. So motherfucking hard.

And Oma? Dear God, I can't bear the thought of a world without Oma. I just... she's just...

This is incredibly difficult. I know it's all a part of Life and all that jazz.

I just love her so fucking much is all. My Oma.


  1. She sounds like an amazing woman. Sending prayers for her and your family.

  2. Aw hon, I don't know what to say, except that you can try and take comfort in the fact that she's at peace with her decision NOW. Not later, when she's "forced" to be faced with her life's path, but now, when she can communicate it to you.

    Hope that makes sense...

  3. Oh fuck, Christina. I am so so fricking sorry. That's all I can say. I know nothing will make it better, nothing will help your fear or pain.

    The only thing you can take comfort in is maybe know that this is what she wants and she'll be happier. As fucked up as that sounds.

  4. My grandfather is the only one other then my son I would die for in an eye blink. When it was his time he wanted to let go, but my aunts persuaded him to have surgery to buy him a few more years. He reluctantly did it and never woke up form anesthesia.
    You are brave and kind to accept Oma for her choice. Please let that bring you comfort. In my eyes this makes you a hero. And in the end, Oma might be ready, but heaven might not be ready for her just yet.
    You pour your heart out beautifullyand your wedding pictures made me cry tears of joy x

  5. I wish I knew what to say. It's so hard to say goodbye - even when you have time and know it's coming. I miss my Marge every day.

  6. Ohhh. I'm so sorry your grandmother isn't doing well. I'm sorry for your sadness.

    My grandmother is still alive too and I am so grateful that I will be seeing next week. So grateful to be able to take a 4 generations picture with her, my mom, me and my daughter. And that she will finally meet my son.

    Take care.


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