How do you celebrate 90 years of life?
My best friend's mother is celebrating 90 years this month, and in honor of her life the family is gathering cards, greetings and "love notes" from friends and family.
I've known Oma (Frieda) since 1973. It was that summer that Oma opened her home to me and I came to live with my girl friend and her family for awhile on Long Island, NY. I was so blessed by this family and by their extended community of friends and family.
It was during this stay that I learned most of my German cooking skills from Oma and I counted this time as "training" for my marrying into a German family. Oma's family immigrated from Germany in the 1950's and were first generation immigrants to the US (as are my husband's family who immigrated to Canada). Needless to say home life in a German family was very different than what I knew growing up in Texas..it was a whole other world from Texas!
German was the language of the home and my high school German did not prepare me for this! As part of their family I attended a German speaking church and I even attempted a short time with the German Choir! Learning all the wonderful German songs (sung acapella) at gatherings with their other German friends and family is still a sweet memory for me. Even now, when we gather together from all parts of the country for special family events, we hold hands and sing the old songs that I learned so long ago. I had MUCH to learn during my time with this family and Oma was a GREAT teacher.
One of the very first things she taught me to bake was a proper Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cherry Torte). It was a hot, humid day and the whole cake was a flop...but we both laughed (and she was secretly happy that I did not outshine her in my baking skills!) She loves to be the TOP COOK! (and owns that title proudly!)
To pay tribute to Oma on her birthday, I wanted to create something that would honor her life and the legacy that she has given, no only to me and my family, but for all the memories she has created for those of us who have known her.
I started my project with a search for hands...older hands. Oma's hands are and now gnarled and work-worn from years of cooking, cleaning and caring for her family. She had a hard life after the war in Germany but her family always came first. Starting life over in the US was also not an easy time for her and her family.
The next item I wanted to incorporate into my work was scripture describing the Proverbs 31 woman (but in German, of course!) I've seen her rise up early to care for her household. I've also seen those early hours spent in prayer...silently entreating God for the needs of her family. Oma has worked endless hours and performed countless tasks for others. After the war, and once her little family immigrated to the United States there were still many hurdles to overcome...language barriers, cultural differences as well the endless tasks of beginning life anew.
Using a photo program I "married" the two layers to create my base image. I affixed this base image to my canvas.
Next, I wanted to give Oma a visual reminder that even though her life has not turned out as she had planned, and there are still many unexpected twists and turns to come, the Lord has not forsaken nor forgotten her.
To finished the project I added musical notes along the edges to remind her to sing the song in her heart, the songs she has known and sung for years. I also trimmed out the edge with a vintage piece of lace that she gave me years ago!
Each step of the way on this project I thought of all the years since 1973...family, marriages, babies, death. So much happiness and sadness all held in the same hands...molding her to who Christ has called her to be. I know she has kept all these things in her heart to think on.
I don't know that there is much to "desire" for a birthday once you turn 90...so, to Oma on her 90th birthday...
I want to celebrate your life! I know it has not always been easy, nor has it always been comfortable or fair..."God never rejects a weak and weary heart that seeks Him. No matter how broken-down and overwhelmed we are, God welcomes us and is willing and able to help us." Psalm 51:17
I want to celebrate your strength...not in and of yourself, but the strength you gained from your trust in God that He would carry you through...to the very end!
You have been an example to me and to others and I pray you will "finish strong!"
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timotny 4:6-8
Much love to Frieda, and to her family, for all they have meant to my life!