Oma is German for grandmother. And Papa is, well…not the German word for grandfather. Technically, it should have been Opa, but – from what I’m told – I couldn’t say “Opa,” but could clearly say, “Papa.” So…”Papa” it was and has always been.
Let me tell you about these two. My Oma was born in 1926 in Berlin, Germany. And my Papa was born in 1931 (yeah, she likes younger men) in some little town in Illinois that I cannot for the life of me remember the name of. But it was small. Very, very small.
My Oma grew up in a particularly dark time in German History. Yes, that time particularly dark time. As such, she was part of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (The League of German Girls). On 1 December 1936 the “Gesetz über die Hitlerjugend” (law concerning the Hitler Youth) forced all eligible juveniles to be a member of HJ or BDM. She eventually served in the German Army (in some capacity), and finally started to help her country rebuild after the end of the war.
This is where his smiling face comes in. It was 1952 and he had joined the US Army and was stationed in Berlin, Germany. As the story goes, they met at a bowling alley and he was smitten from the start. There was some sort of discord between the two (I truly believe that Oma was playing hard to get), but my Papa persisted and finally she succumbed to his sweet and modest ways and the two got married in 1954.
They celebrated their 60th anniversary in February of this year. Around the same time that they were to celebrate this incredible milestone, it was finally time to admit my beloved, sweet Oma into a long-term care facility due to her ailing body and Alzheimer’s.
My Papa is ever-so-faithful to this woman that he loves and goes to visit her every day twice a day (for several hours each visit). Although it could be further, he drives 20 miles round-trip, each visit. Every day. He picks up and washes her clothes every day. He loves her every day. She is all that he has ever known, and she is the light of his life.
I guess he knows that there will come a day that he shows up and she won’t know who he is. And, I guess, because of that, he wants to spend as much time with her as possible. More than anything, I guess he simply loves her.