BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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Who Am I?

My colleague at work has found her birth family. 8a8f8826d98c426854f0caa18b8478c6--genealogy-quotes-family-trees.jpg

People are stunned at how quickly it has all happened, but as she says, quickly aside from the 45 years leading up to it.

It’s not all roses and sunshine. There are things she’s learning that are difficult. But there are things that are incredible, too. She’s already met some of her birth relatives in person. Ten days ago she didn’t know they existed. Remarkable.

Naturally all of this excitement makes me think about my own situation. Do I have birth relatives one state away? Are there pictures of people I’ve never met, as children, who look like my own child? Or me? Do I share a nose with someone, or a laugh, or a love of Cadbury mini-eggs? And could someone please explain about these ridiculous fingernails that bend? Whose fault is that?

I’ve been looking around at 23 and Me, trying to make sense of my DNA relatives. So far the closest link that’s shown up is a second cousin, and she seems to be a dead end. I’m thinking about Ancestry DNA next. That’s what my friend used.

Maybe after all this time someone out there in the big wide world is looking for me. Maybe they wouldn’t mind be found by me. Maybe they haven’t forgotten me. I don’t think they have. How could you?


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South of the Border

download.jpgMy kid and his friends have gone on Spring Break south of the border. These college students have piled into a van and taken a road trip, something that millions of college students have done for generations. This time is different, though. This time it’s my kid.

He’s a good kid. Actually he’s a great kid. He has good friends, makes good decisions, and hasn’t gotten into any trouble in his life. Okay, so there was the writing on the table in first grade incident, but that was a long time ago, and he insists he was erasing what the other kid wrote. I kind of believe him. He works hard, studies hard, and keeps his nose clean. His friends, from what I can gather, are similar.

Last year these boys took a road trip to California for Spring Break. They camped in Malibu. I didn’t even know you could do that, but you can, and they did. This year they decided to go international, with a trip to Mexico. It didn’t take long to get there, they left this morning and he already checked in. Of course we went online to see the place where they’re staying. It looks nice. Steps from the beach.

I’m glad he has friends. I’m glad they’re going on adventures. I’m glad he’s in a lovely place. But, truth be told, I’ll be even more glad when he returns.


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Happy Birthday, Oma Hilde

So I’ve noticed that people on Facebook often wish a happy birthday to someone who is no longer alive. I understand thinking about people on their birthdays, but I’m not sure how I feel about the whole social media thing.

static1.squarespace.jpgHere’s the thing. Today is my grandmother’s birthday. She’s been gone a long time. Since my college-age son was a baby. I miss her.

She was the grandmother who kept me overnight when my parents had a big event or went on a trip. She was the grandmother who taught me to wash windows with vinegar and water and to dry them with newspaper. She was the grandmother who made the best potato salad in the world and let me drink Teem out of the bottle on the porch on hot summer nights. She was the one who walked me to the theater to see Cinderella when I was a little girl and she was the one who took me on the city bus to visit one of her old friends.

0034000170380_A1L1_ItemMaster_type_large.jpgNearly every day, she walked up and down the busy street that her street adjoined, visiting at the dry cleaners, the market, the bank, everywhere. She knew everyone and they knew her. She smiled and she laughed and she liked a good joke. She watched As the World Turns and professional wrestling. She didn’t swim, but on a hot day she liked to put her feet in the pool. She brought me giant Hershey bars when she came to visit, and she told me to keep them in my room and not share them.

Once, when I was ten, my parents went on a trip. My brother stayed with my other grandmother and I stayed with Oma Hilde. It was over Valentine’s Day, so she decided we should make a cake. She had a heart shaped pan we used, and we made a pink cake with chocolate frosting. I think it’s the best cake I’ve ever had.

I had a doll carriage at her house. Who knows where it came from, likely a yard sale, but it was wonderful. I also had a closet full of other toys there, all of mysterious origin, but that’s what made them so appealing. I was her only granddaughter for a long time, and the only one who ever lived in the same city. Those toys were for me, and me alone.

When I was home from college we would get together and run errands, then go to “Hi Ho Silvers” for lunch. She loved the hush puppies, even though she knew she wasn’t supposed to eat food like that.

Right after I graduated she took me on a trip to Germany, sponsored by the city from which she and my grandfather and my mother fled during the Nazi regime. They invited a whole bunch of “their” Jews back, a gesture to make amends I suppose. She was a wonderful travel companion. She was happy to make new acquaintances, and she was delighted to be back in her home country.

We took a side trip to the tiny village of her birth, and I learned so much about her. She rang the doorbell of her childhood home. We were invited in for tea. We stayed overnight with the Mayor’s parents (who lived right next door to the mayor and his family). She took me to the site of the community bakery, where my grandfather proposed to her. We visited family graves. We took a boat ride down the Rhine River, and she sang the Lorelei, a traditional song that Germans sing when they get to a particular point on the river. We drank beer in a beerhall.

This grandmother learned to write checks only after my grandfather died. She bought the high-end washer and dryer in her eighties, because she wanted them to last. She oversaw a bathroom installation project, too, because climbing the stairs got too hard to do every time she needed to use the toilet. She didn’t bat an eye when I destroyed the side view mirror of her car. “It can be fixed,” she said. She called my son a prince. She meant it.

As an adult, it was my grandmother I would call for sympathy. My mother is a fixer, so calling her with a toothache or a rotten neighbor or a work hassle always turns into an investigation. What brought it about? What have you tried? What else are you going to do? You get the idea. My grandmother, on the other hand, was a listener. She would let me talk and then reassure me that whatever I was doing was most probably the exact right thing to do, and that the situation was sure to resolve itself. I always felt better after I talked to her. I didn’t talk to her nearly enough, though. I regret that.

crayon.jpgI suppose if my Oma had a Facebook page (although she wouldn’t) I might stop by and visit it today. And I might just leave her a message. It would say, “Happy Birthday, Oma. I miss you, and I love you, and I always will.”