Words To Live By, From My Oma

Words To Live By, From My Oma

You are my rock.


Picture this. It's the middle of the day, you're sitting on your living room couch and suddenly feel the vibration of a train from the train tracks that run through your backyard. Just like any other day, you run outside to count the railcars as they fly by.

However, today was a little different. You see hundreds of Jewish children waving and cheering through the train windows. Confused as to why you didn't get to join the fun, you wave back.

Fast forward a couple of years and you figure out those kids were on their way to concentration camps and they were as clueless as you.

Born and raised in Nuland, Holland, this was one of the many events my Oma, also known as "Grandma" in Dutch, lived through as a child.

Whether it be following and waving to each car as they pull out of her gravel driveway or calling up her family in the Netherlands just to see how they are doing, my Oma never fails to leave an impact on my life, on the lives of our family, and on anyone she meets. I admire her passion for positivity and helping others, along with her pride and companionship. My Oma is the strongest person I know, and there's no denying at the fact that she is my motivation and greatest role model.

With that in mind, my Oma has taught me quite a few lessons that I will not only pass on to others, but cherish forever.

1. Family comes first

Losing her mom at the age of 4, living during World War 2 and the Holocaust, and finishing school early in the 7th grade, joining her seven sisters and three brothers to work on their family farm, my Oma wasn't afraid. Spending hours in the garden and milking cows on the daily, she played a huge role in taking part in the family needs.

2. Just keep moving

There isn't a day that goes by where my Oma doesn't walk at least two miles. Living by her motto of "just keep moving, and see the beauty that is right in front of you," she stays grateful for the wonderful life that she has been given.

3. Laugh, it is good for the soul

With great health and amazing stories to tell, my Oma never stops smiling. Her contagious laugh makes you realize that her heart is full of gratitude. Whether it's family or someone she meets at the local farmers market, she never fails to make someone's day.

4. Be the light

My Oma went through a lot during her childhood. WW2 was going on when she was only 5 years old. During this time, her and her 10 siblings lived in an insulated hole for six weeks, that her dad built as a bomb shelter during the war. Not having a mother to comfort and care for her throughout these hard times made her the strong, independent person she is today.

5. Love endlessly


Marrying at a young age of 21 years old, my Oma and Opa traveled to the United States by boat for their honeymoon. They loved it so much, they decided to pack up their things and move to America. Ever since, they have only gone back to the Netherlands to visit family and friends.

Being the youngest and only granddaughter of the family, there hasn't been a time spent with my Oma when she doesn't go on and on about how lucky she is to have a granddaughter. Well, Oma, you are my light, all my laughter, you will forever be my sunshine on a cloudy day, and I am even more lucky to have an Oma like you.

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When You Give A Girl A Papa

She'll learn enough lessons to last a lifetime.

When you give a girl a Papa she'll have the best adventures.

She'll run around atop his shoulders and learn to fly. Her imagination will never run dry and she'll always be down for a laugh. He'll tell her stories and wipe away her tears. When you give a girl a Papa she'll have memories to last her years.

Papa is German for Dad but in America, it has become a slang term for grandpa. And while it is just a word, for some, it has a deeper meaning. Papa isn't just a grandfather, he's a best friend, the instigator of mischief, a protector, a storyteller, a rock, the strongest man you know and, most importantly, a hero.

Papa can turn ordinary, everyday activities into an adventure. From a young age, I was running behind him as quickly as my little legs could carry me ready for that day's adventure. I was always down for anything Papa was doing, following him in his daily chores and mimicking his every move. Cuddling up and watching sports in his lazy chair was my favorite time of the day because he always told the best stories. Sitting there hanging onto every word he said because it was the most important thing I ever heard.

Papa is full of experience and wisdom. His wise words provide comfort every time I am sad. He can always make me laugh to fight the tears away. I'm not sure how, but he always knows what to say to make me feel better. Papa is a fearless force that never bows and is never broken. He can weather all of the storms while smiling and laughing. I can only hope to have that resilience when facing life's problems. And when Papa was struggling with his own battles, I will stand right next to him, ready to fight and do all I can for him.

Papa can do a happy dance via the phone so he is the person to call when something good happens. He is always there to celebrate life and all its joy. And, even though he tried to hide them, he cried happy tears the day of my high school graduation. I pretended not to notice.

Leaving Nana and Papa's house is always the worst part of the trip. Driving away waving my hand in the air with tears welling in my eyes because I can't wait for the next adventure. Disappointing Papa was the scariest thing you I could think of, but I knew that he would never stay that way for long. There was always a lesson to learn from mistakes.

He is the man I model all men after. If they don't treat me the way Papa demonstrated, they are not worthy of my time. If they don't make me laugh or have that twinkle of passion in their eyes and fire in their soul like my Papa, then they aren't the man for me.

Papa is my hero. I would give anything to be like him, to stand strong and hold the world together when it just wants to fall apart. To be able to make anyone laugh and feel right at home. To fight for what I believe in and work hard to achieve my goals. To have charisma and charm. To deal with people who wrong me with class and kindness. To follow my faith with questions because that is the only way to make your beliefs stronger. To be the person everyone speaks of with a fond memory in their eye.

At the end of it all, he is my Papa and no one can take his place. I can and will drop anything to be by his side. He has shaped me into the person that I am working to be. I will always call him for advice and kind words.

Best friends come in many forms, but my favorite will always be my Papa.

Cover Image Credit: Jessica Goddard

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I Am So Thankful For The Strong Women In My Life

They have helped shape who I am today.


As a kid, I had three major women in my life: my mom, my grandma, and my bubbie (Yiddish for "grandmother").

I can easily say I am all the better for having these women as my role models for life.

My mom and I didn't get along all that well when I was younger. Cliche as it is, it took me leaving home for college for us to really segue into a much healthier mother-daughter relationship. It also helps that we got a dog a few years ago and became crazy dog moms together who send dog memes and videos back and forth.

My mom is and always has been a powerhouse.

My mom worked a lot and taught me the value of putting in the effort. I learned from her to never settle for less than great, to work hard, and not let people walk all over me. She (and my dad) made sure I knew the value of professionalism and how to be professional. There's a reason I ask them to proofread any important emails before hitting send!

My mom is also a total goof.

This pretty much sums us up!

My sarcasm and humor are unquestionably from her. She's one of the funniest people I know and reminds me not to take everything too seriously. Also, the constant dog and baby videos we send one another are the best.

My grandma is my best friend.

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Yes, that's possible. It helps that we share a lot of interests. My grandma has always been my number one supporter and as I got older, became someone I rely so much on for emotional support. I can always count on my grandma to make me smile.

My grandma taught me to love unconditionally, even towards those you are not blood-related to.

She is my dad's step-mom and technically my step-grandmother, but you would never know we aren't blood-related with how she whole-heartedly loves her non-biological grandkids just as much as her biological ones. She made her home into a safe space for me in the years I needed that most.

My bubbie taught me that time apart means nothing when it comes to loving someone.

As I've grown older, I don't get to see my bubbie as much. But I know she is always there if I need her, and I know she loves me.

I recently went to dinner with her and was reminded of just why - and how much - I love my grandmother. She's tough and sweet, smart and funny. We spent most of the time talking about everything from family to theater to politics, and it was a highlight moment of my life. I enjoyed it so much.

I am unbelievably lucky to have not one, but two grandmothers who love me in the way only a grandmother can. They give my life a specialness I wouldn't get from anyone else in my life.

I am so lucky to have a mom who I can have a good relationship with and talk to openly. (And who puts up with my unintentional repetition of stories.)

I cannot thank any of these women enough for being involved in my life.

I love you all, and happy Mother's Day!

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