Monday, March 05, 2007

In Memorium

It was a very long week last week here at Euro-American Life. By far the most difficult thing was the passing of Oma on Wednesday, Feb. 28. Although her death was not unexpected, the pain and grief afterwards was nevertheless surprising.

Martha Schuette (born Dombrowski) was born on Nov. 9, 1931 in Kosken, a small village in former East Prussia and what is now Poland. Martha was the youngest of six children (Ernst, Heinz, Hedwig, Evert, and Max). She grew up happy on her parents farm and went to school in the village. But, as was the case for millions, the War came and changed everything. Her father and brothers were taken away to fight or work for the "cause," and she and her mother were left alone with her youngest brother, Max.

In 1945, shortly before the war ended, people in the village warned of the coming Russian army and so Martha and her family fled. After weeks of travel and witnessing horrible atrocities, Martha and her mother arrived in Wiefielstede. Life as refugee was not easy. After the war, refugees were as unwelcome as the foreign occupiers.

But Martha was never one to give up. She took a job cleaning in a private home and worked in the fields if needed. Because life was hard, she tried to enjoy the little things, especially dancing. Dancing was the one place where Martha could let loose all of her pent up energies. In the late 1940s Martha met a very quite man at a dance. Although Harry Schuette was very different from Martha in many ways, they fell in love and were married.

For over 50 years Martha and Harry were happy. They lived a quite life in Bockhornerfeld. Sometimes it was a bit confusing for Martha. Harry's entire family spoke only Plattdeutsch (the dialect Low German) and she did not. However, as with all things, Martha was quick to learn. Martha and Harry were blessed with three children, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren. She was active in many different organizations, and if there was a reason to have a party, then Martha was the first to organize it.

In 2004, shortly after the German and I were married, Oma was diagnosed with cancer. For a long time the prognosis was good and in the summer we celebrated sunny days. In November another tumor was found; this time no operation was possible. We all knew that inevitable would come.

Oma passed away at home, surrounded by the family that meant so much to her. Although it was difficult, it was comforting to know that she is no longer in any pain. I so admired this woman who would not let the hardships of life keep her down. She will be greatly missed.


kim said...

i'm sorry :( *hug*

christina said...

Oh, I'm so sorry, Claire. My condolences to all of you.

Dixie said...

I'm so very sorry to hear of her passing. I'm glad you shared her story with us - it sounds as if she had a hard life but one with sweet rewards. I'm glad her passing was peaceful and that she was surrounded by those who loved her very much.

Carol said...

Oh Claire... reading this brought tears to my eyes -- certainly in part for the memory of own mother's death, but also for your family. I know how hard it can be to say that long goodbye!



Isabelle said...

I'm sorry to hear of Oma's passing. Thank you for telling us her story. My thoughts are with you and yours..

hexe said...

I'm sorry to hear about Oma. You wrote a lovely tribute to her. Condolences.