“Honey, I don’t care what anyone tells you – the golden years are shit for the birds!”
Oma always told it like it was. To anyone who would listen.
One of the many things I loved about her. She got right to the point. No mind games.
And at the age of 86, that was her take on life, confined to a wheelchair in an assisted living facility near me. Her shoulders disintegrated. Knee replacements failing. Almost blind. Skin thin as tissue paper. Widowed. She was pissed. Understandably.
Oma was my maternal grandmother.
Born and raised in Ohio.
Oldest of 2.
Married at 22.
Mother of one.
Grandmother of 5.
Greatgrandmother of 6.
Lover of all things strawberry.
And Stouffer’s creamed chipped beef.
And “The Price is Right” & “Days of Our Lives”
And Andy Rooney’s segment on “60 Minutes.”
And…as I discovered…she loved yellow roses…just like I did.
When Oma was having a good day, she also liked to talk politics, gossip and reminisce about her childhood…
I played jacks and I loved to roller skate. Those were the only things I could do! Back in those days, the girls wore big bows in their hair. Boys and girls were in separate classrooms. Why, I remember visiting my cousins on their farm in Indiana. It was so much fun. It was a beautiful farm, too.
She would slip into the past and take me with her. I saw chickens and cows and the juicy pies set to cool on the kitchen windowsill. She spoke of her fireman father who developed crippling rheumatoid arthritis but doted on his little girl. He spoiled me, she said with a grin.
Oma only completed the 10th grade, quitting to work full time and bring in money for her family. She loved her job as a secretary at a music/piano store in Cincinnati. Customers came in to listen to the newest records in private listening rooms. She was thrilled to be a part of that.
But I remember her long before the “golden years” overtook her.
Her quick wit, her caring and love of family.
I spent weekends with Oma & Opa several times a year. My childhood getaways. Just me and them.
When Opa was at work, Oma and I went shopping – back before the days of big box stores and Walmart. We’d walk up and down the town’s main street. Every shopkeeper greeted her by name, the bells on the door signaling our arrival. We got fresh sliced ham for sandwiches and a thick steak at the butcher shop. Black & white cookies and warm rolls from the bakery. Opa’s shirts at the dry cleaners.
One day, on our drive home from shopping, we were waiting at a stop light next to a carload of teenage boys. The driver gunned his engine and laughed at us: the “old” woman and the kid. Well…when the light turned green that “old” woman floored it. We were off like a shot – her 8 cylinder blue Chrysler leaving those hot-rodders in the dust! I cheered! Wow!, I remember thinking, Wow.
It is still my favorite Oma story. This “old woman” was 60ish at the time.
I know I was in her thoughts when she was on trips with Opa.
I still have a pile of postcards written just to me in her perfect handwriting…
And birthdays? She would bake each of her grandchildren a cake of his or her choosing. From scratch.
Her other specialties? Waffles made from Bisquick. Applesauce from scratch. Velveeta macaroni and cheese. Using the right brand was crucial.
The results were outstanding.
Upon moving to my first home, I asked for her famous macaroni and cheese recipe. She complied:
My Oma (or Ruth, as she was known to the rest of the world), would have been 112 years old today – October 19th.
I can just imagine her rolling her eyes at the very idea of living that long.
Happy Birthday Oma!