An Oma in the Kitchen

In May, 1914, my widowed, maternal great grandmother, Metta Sophie Bartels, left her small village near Bremen, Germany with  her four teenage daughters, teenage son, and one son in his early 20’s, and immigrated to Fulda, MN, where her father and siblings all had immigrated.  Her oldest son had inherited the Bartels family farm upon his father’s death.  One other son, my grandfather, had been drafted into the German army. He was discharged in July, 1914 because of flat feet, and he immediately left Germany for Minnesota. (It is rather humbling to know that I owe my existence to flat feet).

Metta was called “Oma”, a German term for grandma.  My mother had very fond memories of her. She remembered her as a kind and gentle presence in her life.  Oma lived with her children and helped them with their families as they married and had their own children. She was a hard worker. My mother remembers the time Oma broke her right arm, which was her dominant arm.  My mother said, “Oma just hoed the garden with her other hand”.   Oma died in 1947. The photo is of her prior to immigrating.

We now have a grandchild.  Husband and I thought pretty hard about what names we wanted to be called by our grandson.  Our daughter-in-law’s parents will be Grandma and Grandpa. My maternal grandmother was called “Umie”,  a diminutive for “Oma”.  Umie was interesting but rather difficult to live with, so I didn’t want that name.  For rather hard to explain reasons, Husband will be Grandpa Dazzle. I could be “Grandma Boom” because of my last name, Boomgaarden. That name, however, belongs forever to my paternal grandmother, a short, wild little person who drove really fast and cheated at cards.  I decided that I want to be called Oma.

We visited our son and DIL a week after the birth of their son.  While at their home I cooked and froze two soups (Bremer Huhnersuppe and Chicken Chipotle Chower), lasagna, four loaves of French bread, and a loaf of lemon poppy seed bread. I also cleaned out all their kitchen cupboards and drawers. Who has time for that with a newborn?  My grateful son said “Every  home needs an Oma in the kitchen”. I was glad to be of help.

What kind of help has benefited you the most?  What help have you given that has been the most helpful.  Have you ever had a nickname?”

42 thoughts on “An Oma in the Kitchen”

  1. I wondered what my grandson would call me. Somehow it seemed vain to try to control that decision, so I decided to accept whatever Liam came up with. To my surprise, it was Grampy. There is no great dignity in that, but it’s okay.

    He started with two. My sil’s father was Grampy Jack or Grampy the Bear. I was just Grampy or sometimes Grampy Who Broke the Toilet. But Grampy Jack didn’t live long, leaving me to be the only Grampy.

    My mother’s mother was always known as Nownie. At some point I became curious about my family history. One of my questions was why she acquired that name. The surprising answer was, “Well, the person you need to interview is yourself. You started calling her Nownie when you were two or three, and we all just fell in line with it.”

    Grandpa Dazzle is a wonderful name. And you can be proud of being Grandma Oma, named for a switch-hitting capable woman.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Re: the nicknames–I have a consistent nickname in life, predictably, be “Jac.” Not too imaginative, but it was fine with me. In my teens I was very tall and SOOO skinny. The nickname became, even more predictably, Jack Sprat. That one I hated. Next following the spate of hijacking planes in the late 60’s, it became “Hi-Jac.” Ugh. As a Grandma, the grandkids call me Grandma Jacque. It is fine, just not as dazzling as Grandpa Dazzle.

    Re: Help–having people bring food and clean my house and supervise children during vulnerable periods was most helpful. During my bout of breast cancer many people did that. I was deeply grateful. However, my mother, whose presence was usually not helpful, came to stay and “help out” while I was hospitalized for 3 days. I found it distressing, because she relentlessly criticized my son (and me). My son was 8 though,so someone had to be there and she was determined that it would be her.

    Upon discharge from the hospital and my return home, I found that my son had strung a piece of yarn across the door of his room with a boldly written sign taped to it that said, “Grandma, Stay Out!” She was so embarrassed and I was so PROUD. I wish I would have thought of that one.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Grampa and Gramma. Kids choice, guided now that I think about it, by their parents. Both are fine. My kids had Grandpa, to whom they seldom spoke. He was formidable. (If we have formidable, why don’t we have formid?) They had Gramma Building and Grandma Farm, (Yes, they did add the D for my mother.)
    I am not a nickname sort of guy, maybe not even a guy. I was for 15 years Mr. B, but only to the annual staff. strange how other students left it to the annual staff. On the rare occasion other students called me Mr. B I seldom noticed and never commented. Across the hall was Mr. D, who all the students called by that name. Caused a bit of confusion in a noisy hall.
    Help. Hmm? Given quite a bit along the way. Told most of the standout tales regarding that. Hope I helped students. Never quite sure. Several I will claim to have mentored.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Will add that as a pastor I helped/guided a couple dozen people through rough transitions–grief and death preparation, divorce, family issues, etc. 3-4 people with mental health issues were responsive to me because I made my depression public.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thanks!
        Just delivered some straw and headed back into college for the big event tonight.

        Maybe we get those bales good and wet first then we can do candles, eh?

        The nice thing about procrastination is: if I wait long enough, Jacque, Mig, and Anna will have things figured out for me!
        Then I just need to show up. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. My dads dad was jb.
    Grandpa and grandma on my moms side were distant and didn’t talk to kids much. My grandpa was a snazzy guy who owned a bridge construction company. He has a fancy car guy who switched from the tbirds he had been driving to cadillacs in 66 or 67. We would visit occasionally but usually saw him at Christmas Easter and thanksgiving. I did go up to his lake place at leach lake one weekend as his guest and stayed with he and my grandma, it was horrible and neither I or any of my sibs ever attempted that again.

    Jb died when I was 6 or 7 he was a good guy. Always there for you even though it was only to play checkers or make sure he had the right kind of candy on top of the fridge and that you had some in your pocket. He lived in fargo. I was born in fargo and my mom and dad had a great group of friends in fargo so we went back often to visit.

    I just became a grandpa and it never occurred to me to be involved in the naming process. Ari will have to work that out himself. I imagine his mom and dad will figure that out with him. My son in laws dad died this year tragically so I get grandpa duties to myself.
    Ari and his parents will be going to kosovo in August to meet grandma and sisters and hundreds of relatives over there. A new kid is a big deal and everyone will fly into town for the week my daughter and her family go home to visit. They are looking forward to it. Health care in Kosovo is a big problem and Envers mom and one of his sisters are hanging in there by a thread. It is hard for Enver to watch and he does what he can from a distance.

    The question as to what kind of help is best it is whatever is needed at the moment. Both giving and receiving required being tuned in. Intentions make up for doing it right.
    I hope
    I wish I could do more for my kids and hope to be there as they enter the adulthood. 16 to 30 now they are going forward and I am the old sage. Pretty scary to be the guy people come to for advice. I think the prince of tides had a line where the dad said something like my job is to screw them up their job is to learn survival skills

    I lucked out and went 5 for 5. All great kids all screwed up in their own little ways and I am ther for them. It’s hard being the only one not screwed up on this planet but I do my best to pass on the advice the rest of the world needs and comes to me for.

    Liked by 7 people

  5. HELP!

    Decided to make my daughter and her family artisan bread for Mother’s Day. Lined up 2-cup and one-cup measuring cups (glass against my wishes) and plastic tumbler. Set them well back from the edge. Then i got busy and reached for something, forgetting where the things were. Grazed against one, my hand jerked and pushed them all to the floor. 30 minutes of picking up, vacuuming up the glass, then trying not to bleed in the dough, which you do not knead, fortunately. It is an fm thing for some
    of us to lose ourselves in space, which the normal brain tracks without conscious thought. Plastic tumbler is double walled. I use it every morning to mix up and drink my Miralax. Inner wall cracked. Will have to buy myself another plastic one. Sandy will object o using plastic measuring cups. It’s that Russian ultra-clean thing.

    For her birthday I bought Sandy two double-walled glass tea cups, which of course she has never used. She only uses what she buys. Last week i bumped one of them out of the cupboard shelf, which she keeps in front for aesthetic reasons. She considers that uses the cups, you see. Had glass all over all the stuff she keeps on the counter for aesthetic reasons, which I always tease her is in contrast to her Russian hygiene.

    Remember the junk sculpture Kevin put on the patio? We are today going to buy spray paint, ribbons to put on it, and just the exact right plant to set in front of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Finally got time to make a cup of coffee. BUY my hand jerked when I was adding grounds to the one cup basket. Getting out the vacuum again


  6. My tale of my great grandmother’s journey through Ellis Island dovetails with a happening at our local high school yesterday. A year of planning by high school history students culminated in the High School being transformed into Ellis Island. Several hundred middle school students were transformed into immigrants assigned as either 1st class, 2nd class or steerage passengers, given roles and identities, and bused to the high school. The buses for 2nd class and steerage immigrants were stunk up with garbage to replicate how awful the boats smelled. High school students had researched just how the new arrivals were treated and harassed. All the students had roles they played out, like guards and medical examiners. High schoolers who are actual immigrants and are learning English as a second language were given the roles of immigration agents. They spoke in their native languages to the middle schoolers to give them an idea what it is like to be somewhere and not speak the language. The kids gained a real appreciation for the immigrant experience, as well as increased compassion for immigrants.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. My grandma moniker is Bocker. No one knows how he came up with it, but our oldest grandboy, now 19, christened me when he was about 2, long after he had called other family members by a name. Mine was the last and, to my mind the best. I feel a bit like Tigger (’cause I’m the only one). All three grandkids still call me Bocker, as do various others in the family. Please don’t tell me of other grandparents you know with the same name; I cling to my Bocker/Tigger comparison and will ignore attempts (factual or fictional) to make it anything but unique.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Husband’s nickname growing up was Happy, and that’s what he’s called by our nephew’s oldest son (now in Georgia). When he was born until age 2, we were like grandparents with him. Their other kids, the “littles” (now 5 and 7) probably just call us by our first names… we hope to do a road trip to visit them in Sept.

    Husband’s son Mario’s kids in Calif. call him Grandpa Happy, I think, but we don’t see them often enough to really know. I am Grandma Barbara, which is a mouthful, so is usually shortened to Barbara. To step-son, I am Babby-ra, at least in letters & emails. They are coming here in early August – ask me then. : )

    Have had tons of nicknames, my favorite being when the toddler Joel decided to call me “Barber” for a couple of years.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “Bumpa” c’est moi. That was also what I called my paternal grandfather. Even though he died when I was four years old, I was closer to him than to my maternal grandfather, who lived in a different state.

    When my first granddaughter was born, we waited to see what she would call Robin and me. It pleased me no end when I too became Bumpa. If she got any coaching on that score, it wasn’t from me but it seems like an awfully big coincidence.

    Robin is “Bamma”.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. I have a couple of nicknames. My main one is She. I got that from my baby sister who couldn’t say Sherrileeee and it came out “sheeeee”. I don’t encourage people to use that one but once you’ve known me long enough and you start using it, that’s fine. My other nickname that I’m particularly proud of his Verily Sherrilee, which I got from this group.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s something about some nicknames, you need to have put in the time to have the privilege to use them. One of my former bosses was named Martin W. Except for a few people who had known him for along time, we all called him Martin. Those who had known him “back then” called him Marty, but that was not a privilege afforded to newcomers. If you made the mistake of calling him Marty, if you weren’t in that select group, you’d be immediately admonished.

      I have one old friend who calls me Maggie. Don’t really know why, no one else does, but coming from him, I know it’s a term of endearment, so I don’t mind. Otherwise, I don’t respond to it.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. My mother’s grandmother was called Nonny. So this was the name she always wanted to be known as when she became a grandmother. And you know if from the minute the grand baby is born you start referring to yourself in front of that grandbaby as Nonny and refer to yourself as Nonny to your children as well, then by the time that grandbaby starts to talk you are Nonny. And decades later you are still Nonny to everyone in the family. I don’t think any of us has called her mom for 30 years.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Similarly, when I called my grandmother Nownie, that name swallowed up her real name. Decades later someone mentioned “Ruby.” Confused me. Even when it was explained to me that Nownie had been born Ruby, I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

      Liked by 3 people

  12. my high school female friends(girl friends of the other guys in the group) all called me timmy
    no one else ever did.
    i saw them 5 years ago for the first time in 40 years and they wondered if it was ok to call me timmy
    i told them i couldn’t imagine them calling me anything else
    my brain still hears their 16 year old voices and laughs and timmy like it was 15 minutes ago
    isn’t the brain a great thing
    this group introduces me as lower case tim and includes the rest of the story as the why and the blog…
    makes me wonder how to turn word docs into lower case docs
    i haven’t figured it out yet
    i do all my business correspondence in lower case
    many people tell me not to
    i choose not to listen
    if i can’t be known for being a great writer at least i can be known as a lower case writer

    Liked by 3 people

  13. My mother used to call me Lin for short. My sister still does. For my entire life, if either of them called me that, it sounded like a shortened version of my name. If anyone else ever called me that it sounded wrong, like they thought my name was actually Lynne. Which it is not. To call someone by a diminutive, it must be earned, it can’t just be adopted.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I was called Nay Nay. I hated it. Then, to make matters worse, my dad would call me Spiller since I was gangly and clumsy and knocked things over. Grr!!

    Liked by 1 person

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