On friday we got the call, my husband’s Oma (dutch for grandma) was quickly declining in health. She had stopped eating and drinking and it was expected to be only a matter of time. Family was encouraged to come right away if they could. We got the Rocket Scientist a flight out Sunday afternoon and as much as we would have liked to have all gone together, it would have been very costly and Doodle has been suffering from a bad cold and I imagine a nine hour flight would have been very hard on him (and everyone else).
As we were getting ready to leave for the airport, we got the next call. Oma had passed away early that morning. My heart aches for my dear husband and his parents who were still on the road, trying to get there to say one last goodbye. I took the call as he was getting Doodle dressed. That is news I never wanted to give. He was crushed, angry at himself for not taking an earlier flight. We had looked at a flight on Saturday, but the plan would have been to stay with my dad in Calgary that night anyway and ride to Stettler with his parents the next day. He still wouldn’t have made it. But it’s easier to do anything than feel the sharp pain of loss. As for me, I did everything I could to focus on taking care of him and Doodle so that I wouldn’t have to look at my own pain at this loss.
Oma was quite the fiesty lady. Her favourite word was ‘bullshit’. And it perfectly described how she approached life. Not much was worth fussing over, most of it was just bullshit. She loved to make sure you didn’t take yourself too seriously with a gentle ribbing and a wink as she laughed at you. She was the first of my husband’s family that I met. Her apartment was warm and full of mementos of Holland (where she was born) and pictures of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She always offered you a drink and something sweet. And by drink, I mean drink, no matter what the time of day. She loved advocat or a rye and seven. Advocat, for those who may not know (I know I didn’t), is a banana liqueur and wow is it strong. My first experience with it was a shot she insisted I take. I think the next time she was more gentle with me and just insisted on some chocolates with advocat in them ;).
*edit: my husband informed me that advocat is an egg liqueur. woops. well, it was yellow and the chocolates with advocat were shaped like bananas. maybe that time it really was banana liqueur. hmmm. all I know is that it was midday, very strong, and Oma was kind enough to simply chuckle at my watering eyes.
I like to think she liked me. Maybe because I didn’t treat her with trepidation, I was very close to my Grannie and never felt that generation gap. Maybe because I laughed along with her ribbing. Maybe because I laughed when she used her ‘favourite word’ and cluck disapprovingly (I hear that happened often). Maybe just because I loved her grandson who she had recently become so close to.
I remember one trip, we wanted to take her out for lunch. So we asked her if there was a place she liked especially and we would take her there for lunch the next day. She told us and off we went. I couldn’t remember why it sounded familiar until we got there. It was a chain in a mall food court. At first, we felt bad because we had wanted to take her to a real reastaurant, but it was where she wanted to go and I think maybe she did it on purpose. The food court was a place she went regularly and knew several people on our way and walking through the mall. I think maybe she wanted to be seen out with her grandson.
As much as I wish I could be there to say goodbye and be there for my husband during this time, I am very grateful that he is able to be there. Oma will be greatly missed.