I believe in family and that every family has a center. My Oma (grandma) grew up in Germany under the rule of Hitler, she saw her grandfather get his arm cut off because he wouldn’t fight for the Nazi’s, and she was kicked out of her house and had to steal her food to survive. She fought all those battles in her life until she was given a battle where she could not fight anymore.
I spent three years going to my Oma’s house after school, in the first year she was diagnosed with colon cancer. I saw the best days and the worst. My family spent most nights gathering at her house; she was the top chef of our family. All her meals were made perfect and with love.
Her house was the safe haven for my family because she was there. The moment we walked through the door she came rushing to greet us screaming, “Schuhe aus, schuhe aus” (shoes off in German). Then she embraced us one by one and smothered us with kisses and hugs. As we joined together in the kitchen we all knew we were home.
I was working at a summer camp when I heard that my Oma only had months, weeks, or days to live. She was in the hospital because she had collapsed due to the chemotherapy, it wasn’t helping it was just making her weaker and sicker. I returned to a totally different family. The center of our family was slowly dying and everyone finally saw what was happening. Summer was coming to an end but so was my Oma’s life.
At the last doctors visit we stood around Oma as the doctor broke into tears saying, “Christine, I hope you die soon because if you don’t it will be slow and painful.” It hit me at this point; my Oma was really going to be gone forever. We wiped the tears from our eyes we didn’t want her to see, we had to be strong she couldn’t she us cry we wanted every last moment in her life to be full of joy. After that last doctors visit we brought her home and we sat there numb as our world fell around our feet. I was so afraid that whatever I said would be the last words I spoke to her. So I didn’t talk I sat there looking into her eyes wishing she wouldn’t leave me.
Just five days after that last doctor visit at 5:25pm she was gone. I was lying next to her we she died she was in so much pain but in that moment it was all gone. Oma was strong, independent, and a survivor now that she is gone my family isn’t the same. She was the center of our family her love completed our lives, made all the bad disappear. Now that she’s gone I believe in family and that every family has a center.