What an eventful, whirlwind of a weekend…and a roller coaster of emotions.
Tonight, I got home from a lovely, surprise getaway to Montreal – a gift from my thoughtful friend, Cathy. Exhausted but happy, I was about to sit down and write today’s NaBloPoMo blog about our light-hearted adventures in la belle province…when the phone rang.
My Oma passed away tonight. At 98 years of age, we’ve all been preparing for her passing for some time now; God knows that Oma herself has been waiting to leave this world for a better one. And tonight she did.
For the first couple of minutes of the phone call, I quietly processed the information my mom was telling me. Then she put our call on speaker phone, and my dad started talking. When I heard my dad’s voice – strong, loud, unwavering as always – talking about his mom, something triggered in me. “Dad…that was your Mommy,” I blubbered, as the tears began to fall.
I find it so amazing how you can try your best to prepare for a death; to intellectually understand that it can and will happen. Yet when it does, you’re never truly prepared for the emotions that it brings forth.
My eyes are full of bitter-sweet tears; my head is filled with a mosaic of my childhood memories of Oma tonight. Oma in her apron, cooking and serving out countless meals to me, to all of my aunts and my uncles and cousins. Big smiles and laughter, her crystal-blue eyes sparkling with pure joy. Oma tending to her backyard garden, harvesting vegetables and raspberries. Oma pulling out games to play with her grandchildren – tile rummy and Chinese checkers. Oma teaching me the lyrics to ‘Gott ist de Liebe,’ one of her favourite hymns.
I think of the amazing, strong woman that she was – to lose a husband and son to the terrors of WWII, and to come on a long, lonely ship from Europe to Canada – a young widow holding the hand of her little boy…my dad. Without even knowing the language, she started a whole new life in Saskatchewan – only to experience the challenges of living off the land. She would eventually find and lose two more loves of her life…Oma outlived a total of three husbands. But she also had the joy of bringing a third son into the world, giving my dad a brother again.
Tonight, I remember the strength and beauty of Oma, Liesbeth (Stoess) Neufeldt. I lift up my memories of the wonderful person she was, as her spirit joyfully rises up in celebration of a life well lived.