Today is my mom’s birthday. It wouldn’t be right without a blog post to commemorate her. She truly is the reason for so much in my life.
My friends and even Facebook folks (my mom is on Facebook, has an iPhone and texts her grandkids- she’s the coolest 71 year old ever!) know my mom as this sweet, white haired woman who is fair, crazy smart, and sharp as a whip. But mostly, she has the tenderest heart of anyone you will ever meet. Come on over for a cup of tea- she’ll be your best friend after an hour. You’ll be telling her your deepest concerns, she’ll council you and steer you in the right direction. I promise. It’s true. Just ask the lady that does her nails, checks out her groceries, my friends, the church organist, the Starbucks barista…. yeah- she makes friends with EVERYBODY!
It’s hard to picture little Uta in Germany born during the war. She remembers air raids, US soldiers occupying their house, her own father a prisoner of war to the Americans for two years. Two years. He was a civilian and NOT a Hitler supporter. But that’s politics and war for you. The story of the American soldiers in their house is kind of funny. My grandmother was disgusted that they left their boots on the bed, were messy and didn’t leave things as they found. Their mother’s clearly didn’t teach them what my mom taught me!
Don’t ask when she met and married my dad (shh, she was 17, but doesn’t like to admit!) and moved to the States. My dad was from England, 27, and ready to make a life for them in Chicago.
Struggles, foster children, their own special needs child, English as a second language, 3 children of their own- nothing could stop my parents for creating an American way of life that was comfortable and idyllic. We lived in the ‘burbs, my mom stayed home with us, my dad worked as a mechanic for United Airlines, they put us through college, took us on trips to Europe to visit family, made Christmas and birthdays the best days of the year. We weren’t spoiled. We had only what we needed. But we were exceptionally cared for.
I always bristled at anyone who called me spoiled growing up. My mom brought me a cup of tea in bed. Yeah, so? Spoiled because she washed my clothes and packed my lunches? Hmm, I don’t think so. I was wearing hand me downs from my sister who was 8 years older than me, that my mom sewed. Imagine wearing clothes in 1984 that were made in 1976. Yeah, I was THAT kid. We traveled to Europe because my dad worked for the airlines, we stayed with family when we were there. These weren’t fancy trips. But they gave me the perspective of the world. My best memories are of time spent in Germany or England.
When I was a teenager my mom and I were still best friends. I told her lots of stuff! She would sit on my bed the next morning to hear about the previous night I spent with friends. I would tell her all the gossip and details. I trusted her. She never judged.
When I got married and was pregnant on bed rest with Emma for 10 weeks, she came and cooked for us so James could work. She saved us!
The best compliment of my life right now is how much my children love their Oma. They ask for special sleepovers where they can spend time with her. Not together, just one of them at a time! Owen loves to sit and read, drink cups of tea, learn to sew, listen to classical music. He is very content to visit there.
I’m off to spend the day with her. We will have lunch and then dinner. Nothing fancy. No shopping sprees or spa trips. We’ve got the kids and their schedules. It will be my dad and sister, James and the kids. We’re just happy to be with her. Our Oma.
Love you Mutti.