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?”