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.
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.
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.
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.
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.