“I want to go see Oma. I want to go see Oma…” she said over and over again – about ten times in a row – tugging at my heart strings each time she repeated it.
I was holding my young granddaughter in my arms and walking down the hallway in our house when she spotted the photograph of my mother on the wall as we passed it, which made her suddenly realize that she hadn’t seen her for some time.
“Do you miss her?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Well, Oma’s gone to be with Jesus.” I explained. “She’s in heaven now, and we can’t visit her there.”
My mother, in her eighty-eighth year, had died only a few months earlier, and Micaela was not old enough to understand the meaning of death. All she knew was she loved “Oma” and missed her very much.
I was so happy that my mother had lived long enough for my oldest grandchild to get to know her. I recalled an incident from the previous summer, before my mother became critically ill, when she was helping me can pears. Our daughter’s family was visiting us at the time, and Micaela stood in front of the tray, talking with her. My mother taught her to speak German, our native language (although my parents were actually of Dutch and Polish origin).
“Ich,” “Ich,” my mother said each word individually and Micaela repeated it after her, “bin,” “bin,” “ein,” “ein,” “liebes,” “liebes,” “Kind,” “Kind.” Then all the words were repeated together in one complete sentence. “Ich bin ein liebes Kind.” (“I am a dear child.”) Both of them were delighted with Micaela’s accomplishment, and I enjoyed observing them silently.
“Not only is Micaela a dear child, but you are a precious person too,” I thought to myself.
My mother seems to have lived a life ahead of her time as an encouragement to our present generation of mothers, although she may never have been aware of it herself.
Both of my grandmothers had died in childbirth in Europe at the turn of the century. Understandably, to my parents childbirth was a serious matter – a matter of life and death – and my mother never became pregnant except as a result of mutual agreement. She was always very ill during her pregnancies, and one pregnancy was terminated by a doctor in Europe who convinced her that the unborn child he aborted was “just a piece of meat.” His recommendation to my parents was that they should not have any more children, since another pregnancy would kill my mother.
My parents, though, felt so sorry about the baby that had been aborted, that when my mother did become pregnant again they did not consult the doctor but availed themselves of the services of a midwife, which was quite legal in their country at that time. My mother bore three more children in Europe after she had been advised by that doctor not to have any more – one delivery was a set of twins weighing a total of fifteen pounds. After they emigrated to Canada, they had four more children.
By the time my mother was pregnant with me, the Economic Depression was sweeping across our nation, and as recent immigrants in Canada still struggling to get established in their new homeland, my parents were affected quite severely by it. But, in the midst of all their poverty and concerns, a tremendous cause for rejoicing arose when they received their Canadian Naturalization Status.
(After both my parents had died, I happened to look through their personal papers one day and discovered that my father had received his Canadian Naturalization Status exactly nine months before I was born, then I realized that I was not conceived in an atmosphere of depression, but in an atmosphere of joy and excitement. Rather than regard myself as a “Depression Baby,” I know I was actually a “Celebration Baby!” born out of a sincere gratitude to be Canadians.)
Unfortunately, during her pregnancy with me, my mother, who was then in her fortieth year, became ill with a diseases gallbladder. When the doctor suggested surgery, my father asked, “What will happen to the baby if you operate?”
To which the doctor replied, “We’ll do away with it.”
Because of their earlier experience in Europe, my parents had a difficult time accepting this doctor’s suggestion now. Not knowing what decision to make, they committed their dilemma to God. He answered. My mother recovered without undergoing surgery, and I was not aborted but was granted the privilege of life.
God loved and cared for both my mother and me; we were both precious to Him; and He had a purpose for both of our lives.
Interestingly, my mother lived long enough to learn to know my eldest grandchild, who loved her dearly and will always remember her. If my mother had not borne me full-term, then my children would also not have been born, and neither would my grandchildren nor their descendants.
I am very happy and grateful to be alive.