I kick off my shoes and rest my back against the cushions in the couch. Outside I hear the little ones run and laugh, but in here it is heavenly cool and quiet. I stretch my legs, fully intending to make this a blisfully slow and calm day, thinking back of how Chris’ oma came in yesterday.
Helped by her daughters, her walking not what it used to be, she took careful steps up the terrace, slowly reaching the chair they put up for her there. Sitting down she looked up, found herself surrounded by all her children, grandchildren en great-grandchildren, all smiling, eager to see her happy. It was just a couple of years ago that she still ruled the church council, walking straight up with a fierce look in her eyes on ten inch killer heels, telling everyone her opinion without holding back. Right now, the years started to count and to her frustration her brain gets cloudy now and then, making her forget what she wanted to say and confusing her in the middle of a thought.
But not yesterday, as it turned out. Because with a slow smile she examined all the faces around her (and with 11 children and an endless supply of grandchildren and their little ones there were a lot of faces) and then she winked. “Such lovely children”, she said.
There was a lot of singing. A lot of laughing. A lot of speeching too, during which oma sometimes looked somewhat impatiently at her watch. “It’s too much for her, she really gets older”, an aunt said. But I had to grin. Somehow looking at her watch and being bored with too long speeches sounds like something that fits her character perfectly, being straightforward as she has been all her life.
We didn’t get to speak to her a lot, with all the festivities going on. But in the end, when we were leaving, we went up to her to say goodbye. We chatted for a moment, she softly caressed the little hands of our children. Then we gave her a hug and turned around to leave. But just as I wanted to walk away I felt her tug my hand, pulling me back to her. I bent down and she looked at me intently. “What a treasure, those children”, she said softly. “Enjoy it as much as you can. In the end, I can tell you, that is all that matters.”
She is 100 years old. Some say she is losing her wits lately, starting to forget what’s going on. I wonder if she’s not just becoming ultimately wise, remembering only what’s really important.