On my husband Terry’s and my recent trip to visit our exchange daughter Lisa’s family in eastern Germany, our stay included spending time with her maternal grandparents who live next door. Spoken of so endearingly while Lisa lived with us nearly three years ago, Opa and Oma treated us as their own and provided a most jovial, gracious and entertaining, if not idyllic, atmosphere.
From early mornings to moonlit nights, Opa and Oma’s home hummed with a variety of animated sounds. Opa is an industrious elderly gentleman who works his garden with great zeal every morning. Fruit trees, potato mounds and ripe-for-the-picking vegetables bordered the walk from Lisa’s home to her grandparents' house. Our breakfast table often boasted the sweetest freshly picked blueberries, gherkins (German for pickles) and tomatoes.
Opa also often disappeared into his version of a “man cave.” He is a welding wonder who fashions ingenious creations to use in the nearby forest or for his German-baaing (just kidding) Katahdin sheep. Speaking in German, he proudly showed Terry his masterpieces. Terry doesn’t know German, but the ever-present farmer-to-farmer interaction brought smiles, joy and mutual respect.
Then there’s Oma, an independent, exuberant and warm woman who immediately offers food, drink, hugs and handfuls of her beautiful knitted creations. Our dresser drawers now house colorful handmade wool socks, and a bright red “Wilkommen,” or "Welcome," sign adorns my kitchen wall.
We dubbed Oma and Opa the “party animals” because they not only have a “party room” full of long tables and chairs, but also Oma is known to whip out her accordion to play and lead singing. One late night we returned home to see several tiny cars in Opa’s yard and heard merry laughter and singing coming from the party room.
I’m surprised the sheep weren’t dancing a jig while bleating to Oma’s accordion beat.
Hayhurst writes from Terre Haute.