Today is my Oma’s birthday, the only grandparent I really remember. She was a strong, imposing woman who measured less than five feet tall. Oma was born in 1898 in Amsterdam. In her years on this planet, she bore witness to the invention of everything we take for granted today- electricity, television, automobiles. She also was around when someone came up with the bright ideas of the teddy bear,the safety razor, the vacuum cleaner, the lie detector, crayons, tea bags, cornflakes, instant coffee (invented by George Washington!), the crossword puzzle, the zipper, bandaids and PEZ candy, to name just a few. She lived through two world wars and almost all of the historically important events of the 20th century. To me, her only granddaughter, she was a little on the intimidating side; she was the undisputed matriarch of the family.
Her legacy to me was vast: a love of languages and travel; of Peter and the Wolf and Mozart’s Flight of the Bumble Bee; an impatience with bullshit but an ability to love unconditionally. I hope that before she died, she saw some of her own strength budding in me. It is my lasting regret that she passed away while I was pregnant with my twins.
She would have been 114 today.Oma, this one is for you: Lang zal ze leven, Lang zal ze leven, Lang zal ze leven in de gloria. In de glo-ri-a, in de glo-ri-a. Hiep-hiep-hiep hoera! Hiep-hiep-hiep hoera!