12 November 2013

A Different Kind of Remembrance Day

The last few years, I've made a habit of putting up a thoughtful post on Remembrance Day, a post reflecting on the past, on The War. To me, as I learned it from my parents and their generation, The War always refers to World War II. 1939-1945. As if there had not been any other war in the decades previously or since. The scars it left were so deep, even seventy years and two generations later they still hurt.

But this year, I don't want to talk about The War. Because this year, on Remembrance Day weekend, I was engaged in a remembrance of a different kind: I got to go to the 80th birthday celebration of a dear aunt of mine. It was a wonderful party: over eighty people jammed into her daughter's house, eating, talking, laughing, hugging my tiny little aunt who was walking through the crowd of her friends with a great big smile on her face...

Laughing - did I mention laughing? We laughed so hard we had tears running down our faces. Her four granddaughters put on a skit, poking fun at some of her traits. One of the girls acted "Oma", complete with her coat, slacks, shoes, the wig she wore when she had chemotherapy four years ago, and her thick German accent. The funniest bit bar none was when the play "neighbour" talked to the play "Oma", discussing her propensity for making friends with anybody and everybody (that very propensity which was responsible for the crowd of 80+ guests).
"I know you like getting to the mail box at the right time so you can talk to the mail carrier, don't you. You probably even know her name - what's she called?" says the "neighbour".
Play "Oma" replies: "Oh, her name is Jane!"
"No, it's not," interjects the real Oma quite positively, "it's Michelle!"

It was wonderful to celebrate the life of this little woman whose eighty years on this earth have by no means been easy. From having to flee wartime Poland as a child to a bout of cancer in her seventies which we all thought would kill her, through personal difficulties and health struggles, she carried on, and poured out love around her wherever she went. Some of that love was palpable in my cousin's house this past Sunday, flowing back in waves from her children, grandchildren and many, many friends towards this small, grey-haired, smiling person in the turquoise blouse.

It was a Remembrance Day of a different kind, and it was a great blessing to be part of it.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful Remembrance Day! Oma sounds like a wonderful woman.