Monday, July 18, 2011


Oma = grandma (in German)

My Oma died last week. It's heartbreaking news.

I remember travelling up to Canada for Christmas when I was very young. (We drove from Chicago and left before dawn. My little sister was put in the car asleep, woke up about a block after we left and asked, "Are we there?")

I took a plane by myself to visit her one time. I remember three things:

1.) It rained the ENTIRE time
2.) I missed an earthquake in Chicago (thank you, Oma!)
3.) We went into the (soaked) garden every day and Oma cut chives and made buttered toast and put the fresh chives on it for me.

She didn't know this but I still do that to this day as a treat (though the closest I can get is fresh chives from the store!)

Oma was a bookkeper, teacher, housewife and writer - among many other things.

One thing that was cool about Oma was her philosophy of life.

A fond memory my Dad has took place when he was a little boy. She sighed and said, "I want to quit the human race."
My Dad took her words literally and said, "No, no! You can't give up now! You have to win!" He said he didn't even know she'd entered a race!!

To quote Oma herself:

"...when I was about 5 years old and heard my parents and their friends talk about cases, where kids were born and had a supposed memory of former lives, I came to a conclusion that our soul, or what ever we want to call that spark of life, goes back into a big pot after we die and the contents gets mixed by time and when any other living thing gets to be, to be born, a little of this mixture gets to be the new spark of life...I still have not found a better explanation. No one has come back yet to tell us."

How awesome is that? It's a beautiful notion and one of the best I've come across to describe how all living things are connected and even intertwined.

Oma was a great reader. She loved books and she wrote, too.

This is Oma on her first day of school. I see I inherited my *love* of school from her! Would you look at that attitude? She was born to be an Oberth even if not by blood.

Oma loved dogs. Cats, too.

She's going to be missed by countless people. She (and Opa (Opa=grandpa in German)) created this massive, massive - seriously there are tons of Oberths in America - family.

She's lived in at least three countries and she traveled a lot. (Obviously!)

She learned English by watching soap operas.

She was a mother of five - the woman gave birth to five babies in three years! (She had Irish twins and actual twins. I'm the oldest of the youngest.)
Actual Twins (My Dad & Uncle)

She got to be a great-great grandmother. That's got to have been so cool for her - a great-great grandmother!!!! She had five kids, eleven grandkids, twelve great-grandkids and two great-great grandkids. (I hope I got that right.)

My Mom told that after she married my Dad, she was going to attempt something known as 'cooking'. So she asked Oma for some of Dad's favorite recipes. Oma said she didn't have anything written down and Mom thought she was being secretive but Oma said she was welcome to watch her. So Mom followed her around the kitchen while scribbling notes furiously as Oma grabbed a chunk of this and a handful of that. She sprinkled some spices and tossed a bunch of whatever-else...Mom wrote recipes as best she could! (Mom did a pretty good job, actually, because before I became a vegan, my favorite dinner was Oma/Mom's beef stroganoff.)

Last winter, Mom and I were going to attempt to veganize Oma's beef stroganoff recipe but with my sister's wedding planning, Christmas and then my getting sick for a month, we pushed it off for the winter of 2011. Now when we attempt to veganize the recipe, the special connection to Oma will be more pronounced. And a wonderful reminder in the months to come that she's not really gone...

My father called me from Canada, from Oma's house. (I got a cell phone call from 'Oma' which made me sad!) He noticed a doll in her kitchen. A chef doll that my Mom made maybe 25 years ago - still in Oma's kitchen after all these years! After my parents divorce and everything - sitting right there in her kitchen by the phone!

Oma, ich liebe dich. Or as you'd always say in response, Ich liebe dich, Schatz.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss - you have my deepest sympathies. I remember when my grandma died and how sad I was - you are so blessed to have such wonderful memories of Oma and Opa! xo

Live Out Loud said...

Thank you so much

Chatty Crone said...

I am so sorry for your loss too - she sounded like a wonderful woman!

Live Out Loud said...

Thank you - she was quite a woman. She kept us all on our toes!

Ursula Stange said...

A beautiful testament, Jenny. If I'd known this was here, I could have projected it up on the screen where we were showing almost two hundred photos of Oma and her large family. Your dad spoke for you, but the pictures here illustrate the words so well. Oma would have loved this tribute. Hope you raised a glass at eight...
Aunt Ursula

Live Out Loud said...

Thank you, Aunt Ursula.

Thank you for everything you've done at this time - you're a source of comfort for all of us with everything that's been happening and I raise a glass to you as well.

Ich Liebe Dich, Aunt Ursula.

Au and Target said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Your Oma sounds like a nice lady.

Live Out Loud said...

Thank you, Au and Target. She was pretty cool! She'll be missed by so many people but - more importantly - remembered by so many.

Amy said...

So sorry about your Oma. It's never easy to let them go. I said goodbye to my grandma last July, and even though she lived a long, full life, it was hard to let her go. Big hugs to you and your family.

Live Out Loud said...

Thank you, Amy.
It is true, about letting her go. It's weird - they're both gone. My Dad's generation is the oldest now...(My grandmother was an only child and I actually don't know if my grandfather has surviving siblings but if he does, they'd be in Europe...and I've never met them.)
Condolences to you, too.
We're lucky they led long, full lives!

ellie said...

Not only did I follow Oma around as she cooked to attempt to write down something resembling a recipe - I actually took ingredients from her hands before she could toss it in the pot and measured it the best I could. Proudly, I can closely imitate 2 of her recipes - Beef Stroganoff & Hungarian Goulash.


Live Out Loud said...

Ooh that's right! I want some of the vegan version you made me last winter of that Hungarian Goulash!! That was delicious.

You're making me laugh picturing you grabbing foodstuffs out of Oma's hands and measuring it before she can grab it back and toss it in the pot!!!!!

Gunther said...

I'm so pleased you have such pleasant memories of my mother. It's a comfort to me to know she will not only live on in my memories, but yours as well - thank you


Live Out Loud said...