Tuesday, September 3, 2013

a part of me

Today marks the start of Blogtember, a challenge to blog every weekday in September with the help of topics to write about. 
Everyone can join along, it will be fun!  Here are the topics and rules.

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Today's topic is: describe where or what you come from. The people, the places, and/or the factors that make up who you are.

Oma, around 1940-ish?

note: this is my version of her story, some facts may have occurred a bit differently than described.

My Oma, dads mother, was a strong woman with a remarkable story. 
She is an example of strong faith, making the best of what life hands to you and not giving up.

As an unmarried young woman in the late 1940's my Oma became pregnant. It was a scandal in the Dutch town of those days and her outraged family sent her to live with an aunt in England, where she learned to type and speak English, not knowing that it would come in handy in the years to come.

When the dust had settled she came back to Holland with her baby son where she met a man with five children who had lost his wife to an illness. 
They married and with that she became a respectable woman again and he had a mother for his motherless children, it was the perfect solution. A new life for her began.

Her new husband, my Opa, came from a family of fishermen, but in the early 1950's work was scarce and stories of new countries with many possibilities were surfacing. 
Like many Dutch families in those days, my Oma and her new family sold their belongings and made the voyage to Australia to seek a new life and better opportunities.

The start in their new country was rough. But after a few challenging years, in which they found their footing, life was good. 
Their big family grew bigger with more children, including my dad, they opened their very own grocery store, and my Oma was a useful asset between the Dutch community and the Australians with her typing skills and knowledge of the English language.

But then disaster struck. When my dad was nine years old, his dad, my Opa died. 
My Oma was left behind with his five children, six of hers (her first son and the five children Opa and Oma had together) and a grocery store.

But she didn't give up. She took care of her children and managed the grocery store and like she had learned from her life she made the best out of a bad situation.

Then one day while reading a church bulletin for the Dutch community she came across a story of a widower with children living in Canada. She wrote him a letter and they continued a correspondence. 
Through the letters they grew fond of each other and decided to get married.

And once again my Oma left an old life behind to start new one in a new country with a new husband and all of their children. 

She and my step-Opa added two children to their already large family, money was tight, 
but my Oma made do with what she had. 
She sewed clothing, baked her own bread, made her own jam (Oh, I remember that jam) and made sure her children were healthy and happy. And there was always room for an extra mouth at the table. 
My mom told me that when she first visited their house as my dads girlfriend that she thought she'd landed in a real life Laura Ingalls Wilder story. 

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My Oma died a few years ago, and in her last years she was suffering from Parkinson's' disease, the strong woman that she was, had faded a bit. 
She left ( I think) 19 children, step- and her own, and countless grand- and great-grandchildren behind. 
But more importantly she left behind her feisty spirit, her no nonsense attitude and her great example of trusting God and making the best of life. 

She wasn't perfect, my Oma, she could be tough, just ask my dad, but she was a woman with story, a woman who set a great example for her children and her childrens' children. 
A great example for me.
I'm grateful that she is a part of what makes me who I am.

Love, Maria


  1. Such a strong woman your Oma was and an inspiring life she had.

    Is Oma a term in Dutch to address your grand mom?

  2. Such a beautiful story! She sounds like an amazing woman. And so cool that you know so much about your family's history! :-)

  3. What an amazing woman and inspiring influence to have in your life.

  4. Wow, you know the story, Maria! A few errors, but, al in all that is in short the story of her life, for sure! She died of parkinsons disease, not from dementia though!
    She was a great example to me, one of her daughters in law!
    Love and kisses your own motherMarijke

    1. Dear Maria, sorry for the remark, but good, you changed dementia into Parkinsons. But I really am very happy that you shared this story of your oma, because she was and she will be an example to many!

    2. No problem mama, nothing to be sorry for! :) Love you!

  5. wow, what a story, life is such an adventure! thanks for sharing, loved reading this!

  6. Maria, you did a lovely job! You caught the essence of who she was very well and I was so pleased to read it! I was just telling this story to a young mum in our church family who came to faith at a later age. Nothing to brag about, just so much to stand amazed at - this faithful God of ours!

  7. Loved reading the story of my oma written by another of her grandchildren! It's an amazing story for sure. Greetings from Smithers :)

  8. WELL DONE, Maria. Love your story, and Love you



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