My Oma was proper southern lady. She wore lipstick to breakfast. She could pull off wearing some hats that most could not. She played bridge and served in the church circle. She knew there were ways to behave and ways not to behave. And she had lots of saucy ways to let you know into which camp your behavior fell. I like to call them "Omaisms", her concise quips of life lessons, dished out with a drippy sweet southern drawl.
"Can't never could do nothing," she would say. This confusing yet accurate triple negative was used to challenge displays of low self-confidence. As in, "I can't ride a bike!" "Well, can't never could do nothing." How can you argue with that? What does that mean afterall? Is it "You're right, you can't do that" or "you can do anything you want"? I'm still not exactly sure.
When it came to keeping secrets, gossiping, and public behavior in general she would counsel, "If it's not something you'd be proud of, don't write it down." This was her way of making sure things you said and did wouldn't come back to haunt you. Good advice. This was before these days of life online, so I would say this goes for photographs and videos too now. I am very careful about what I put in this blog. I don't put anything in here that I can't deny. Some politicians, celebrities and Facebook users should heed this advice.
Oma could have been a pioneer in the homeschooling movement. She asked us kids many times, "Why don't you just stay home with me today and be my little ignoramus?" Oma was also a master in sarcasm as this was clearly said tongue-in-cheek so all you homeschoolers out there, do NOT get angry about that one.
She also had great health and beauty tips. Whatever ailed you, needed moisturizing or just looked a little odd could be fixed by putting Super Lube on it. I don't really know what Super Lube was, but it came in a small tub and was a pink, Vaseline type substance. Strangely, I googled it but only came up with links to auto products and services. But my brothers and I survived our childhoods wiping the pink stuff on our cuts and abrasions.
Oma was a card shark. She played bridge with the ladies but she also knew almost every other card game known to man. I learned canasta, wagon wheel, 21, rummy and all its variations, hearts and so many versions of solitaire, all by the age of 8. We would play for hours. Sometimes just the two of us, sometimes with my brothers and parents too.
We also played "Find the Thimble". I assume she made this one up to occupy us when she had run out of other ideas. Literally, she would hide a thimble somewhere in her living room amid all the knick knacks and trinkets and we would have to search for it. Whoever found it got to hide it the round. I am amazed that that game held our attention as it did. If I introduced that to my kids they would ask if there was an app we could download for it. But we played Find the Thimble competitively and today I could kick any of my brothers' asses in a game.
Oma also had a good sense of direction. The address for any place remote was "44th and Plowed Ground." As in, "You know the Eggers' farm, it's way out Louisville Road, past 44th and Plowed Ground." You knew right where she meant.
These are my early memories of a lady who would have been 102 today. Her legacy lives on though our family. Not a holiday or family gathering goes by without a reference to some memory of her. Silly or serious, we live by our Omaisms today and always.