Oma & Opa

“Oma & Opa” is Dutch for grandmother and grandfather. Pictured are my mother’s parents with us on their visit circa 1964.

I never met my father’s parents. They were long gone before I arrived.

In looking back, I miss having never met them, and conversely, I’m very grateful I got to spend time with my mother’s parents.

They visited in 1964 — first aircraft flight for either of them, as I understand it. It also must have been quite something, since they spoke no English. The personal magnitude of their decision to visit didn’t really strike me until now.

Two years later my mother and I would visit and see her father for the last time. He would pass away later that year. (I discuss some of the details of that time, and include a few additional photos, in an Ask Leo! video — “One of the Reasons I Think Backups Are SO Important“.)

My grandmother would visit us again at least two more times before her death in 1980.

Before she died, and as she was losing her sight, she and my mother would exchange audio tapes – rather than writing they would simply talk and record their “letters” to one another. At one point I recorded a short note myself, and at the end of one of her tapes to my mother she included a response. Needless to say that’s since been digitized, and of course backed up. It’s neat to hear her voice.

It’s hard to put into words exactly what it is I feel or get out of having met my maternal grandparents. Some closer sense of heritage, perhaps. A better view or understanding of my mother. Faces and personalities to associate with stories I’ve been told. But that all feels vague. And yet, I’m grateful to feel it.

I also contrast it with Kathy’s grandmother — also Dutch — and whom I was never able to meet. The stories I hear make me realize that there would have been an affinity she and I would have shared.

I also see so many others who never have the chance to meet their grandparents for many different reasons. Given that I feel something’s at least missing by not having met my father’s parents, I know that others miss it too.

But I’m glad Oma & Opa were a part of my life. I’m richer for it.