No matter how tough things get, there’s always dessert
- Written by Patsy Oliver
My Cute Little German Mother came to the United States in 1956. She came from Berlin, but was originally from a small village in Germany before the war. She was raised in a home where my Oma and Opa included their children in discussions about important family decisions. When they decided to expand their home and farm, she was there for the initial talks about their family’s bright future. My grandparents first lived on the land Opa was to inherit. There were his parents, his sisters and their husbands, and my grandparents, all in the large home with many rooms and an adjoining family brewery. After some conflict in the home between my Oma and her in-laws, my grandfather let his sisters pay him out of his inheritance and he took his bride to a new home, where they started their farm. Times were good and there was much laughter and, of course, a lot of hard work. They started their family, saved their money, and the farm became prosperous. My Oma managed to provide for all of their household needs through egg and milk money. The proceeds from their crops went into the bank. The decision was made to expand and the architect had already drawn up the plans. But then a notorious leader came along to interrupt those plans forever. My Opa, about 37 or 38, was drafted. He went to war and died there. My Oma took her children and fled because terrible rumors had been circulating about what could happen to a woman and her children when the Russians came to their village. The Russian scout tank tracks had been seen the night before. My Oma and her neighbors packed their wagons and loaded their children, tied the horses’ hooves with cloth to keep silent, and left their homes with a few of their possessions. My mother and her sister were just little girls. They didn’t know what to expect. Their brother was not much more than a baby when they set off for what would become a nine-month trek. They witnessed a public hanging, had lice from sleeping in barns, nearly starved, were shot at from planes, and my mother almost died after several days unconscious with Typhus. But eventually they made it to what remained of Berlin. Their plans and savings were gone. To this day, she has never seen her childhood home again, although her brother and sister did visit this place now in Poland, some years ago. My mother wouldn’t learn of the depth of Hitler’s atrocities on humanity until after she arrived in the United States to marry my father. Her very broken English became fluent quickly with her determination to become an American. She studied, took her test, and became a U.S. citizen shortly thereafter. She couldn’t wait to have a voice in the election of a leader for the first time. Last week, she, my daughter and I went to vote early. She was getting very antsy about voting early to avoid the long lines. She informed me that I need to be sure to get all of the ingredients for pumpkin pie, for Election Night. She and my father would always watch the results come in and enjoy some pumpkin pie and coffee while staying up late. The tradition has apparently continued and although I don’t really like pumpkin pie, I’ve been informed that I will have some on Election Night, and I will enjoy it.