When my grandfather died in 1943, my grandmother, Omi as we call her in German, was left with two twin babies to raise and a farm to help run. Needless to say she had to be strong, fearless and loving.
As the clock of life kept on ticking and time moved on, my Mom, one of her twins, met my Dad while vacationing in California. Ten days after meeting they were engaged. Six months later my mom was living in America.
Growing up, my sister and I traveled to Germany visiting our relatives every other year. These summers were a child’s dream come true. Building fortresses in the hay stacks. Biking to neighboring friend’s farms. Playing in the fields. Riding tractors. All night barbecues with big fires and the freshest meat you have ever tasted. Everything seemed like it was out of a fairy tale.
After high school, I deferred a year from college and went and lived on the farm. This was the first time that I really experienced being with Omi. Being part of a working farm is no walk in the park. It really is getting up when the sun rises and working till it goes down.
Everyday, Omi would spend her entire morning making a big lunch (their version of dinner) for all the men working in the fields. I had many questions for Omi. Oftentimes I would help her cook and during that time ask her questions about her past, my grandfather, life in the surrounding town; things that I knew to be a part of me, but knew so little about.
Today Omi is 95 and still cooks the main meal for everyone. She is one of the strongest human beings that I know.
Of all the things that she has taught me one of the most valuable lessons I learned from her has been about perseverance and believing in one’s dream. In Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist, Coelho writes about how important it is to listen to one’s heart and to never give up on your dream. “Wherever your heart is, that is where you will find your treasure.”