Life is a Mystery

Remembering Oma

In March and April 2011 I wrote some memories of March and April 2010, the weeks I spent with Oma as she died at home. I’ve gathered these together here.

  • Remembering: One Year Ago 9 March 2011 One year ago today I got a call from Dr. Djavan, my grandmother’s doctor in Vienna. Oma was very ill, she had been in the hospital already for a few weeks and I was planning a to visit. In fact, Nathaniel and I would be leaving later that day. Dr. Djavan was calling us to ...
  • Remembering: Rudolfinerhaus 13 March 2011 Nathaniel and I arrived at the Vienna airport on Thursday March 11th and met my brother Stephen there. I like taking public transit in Vienna, so we all took the City Airport Train together. The route home to Huschkagasse from the airport goes right past Rudolfinerhaus on Billrothstrasse. This time, we didn’t go home, ...
  • Remembering: Aiming for Home 15 March 2011 This was a week of struggling to get Oma strong enough to go home, while also preparing the way for her to be there. March 13th: I think Noelle was essentially correct in saying that there was “no significant improvement” yesterday. However, Oma did hit some significant milestones yesterday. She stood up for the first time ...
  • Remembering: Oma Comes Home 20 March 2011 Time dilates when the stresses pile on. Anyone who has tended a loved one in the ICU or lived through the aftermath of an accident experiences this rush of events that can hardly seem, in retrospect, to fit the time they were given on a calendar. This week with Oma and Stephen and Dagmar and ...
  • Remembering: Leaving Oma Behind 26 March 2011 The same week Oma returned to Huschkagasse I had to return to the US with Nathaniel. Before we left, though, we got to spend a couple days with Oma at home. Anna came home from Rudolfinerhaus with Oma, which turned out to be a huge blessing. Anna was amazing, able to pull Oma up in ...
  • Remembering: New Technology 28 March 2011 Once I landed in the States again, my incentive grew for making sure that those of us over here could communicate with her in Austria. Stephen had helped Dagmar install a Skype phone, now I really needed to use it. Here was an early success, on 3/27: I spoke with Dagmar this morning and she said ...
  • Remembering: Apart 29 March 2011 I was apart from Oma for the two weeks at the end of March and beginning of April 2010. Dagmar was with her, arranging for the shifts of nursing care. On March 29 I wrote: I spoke with Dagmar this morning. Veronica, who will take Anna’s place over the next two weeks with Oma, is at ...
  • Remembering: Return 11 April 2011 Alex joined me on my return to Vienna a year ago today. We were coming back to care for Oma, sick at home, so Dagmar could return to the US to attend to matters at home for a while. Our flight included a very long layover in Amsterdam, which gave me an opportunity to ...
  • Remembering: The Last Newspaper 14 April 2011 A year ago on April 13 I wrote: It is a very rainy Tuesday in Vienna and Alex and I have been here for almost a week. Some days, or really, more accurately, nights, have been horrible. Other hours have passed in quiet peacefulness and rest. The couple nights before Sunday were the worst this week. Oma ...
  • Remembering: Ins and Outs 19 April 2011 One of the pleasures of these weeks with Oma was that, to the degree she ate anything, she liked eating the food I prepared for her. For years I had learned how to cook at her elbow. Oma had a very direct method of cooking, just tossing meat on the counter or veggies in the ...
  • Remembering: Lass mich in Ruhe! 21 April 2011 I remember a year ago today with pain and wonder. I was beginning to really push Oma. We now had the pieces for her recovery assembled. Her friends had visited her and encouraged her. Anna was caring for her. Her doctors were attending her and adding fluids to the mix with an infusion. The physical ...
  • Remembering: The Woods 23 April 2011 When I was six I spent a year in Austria with Oma and Opa. I returned often for weeks in the summer time. I have distant memories of walking in the woods with Oma as a young boy. Oma would take me mushroom hunting, digging around near the base of the trees to find the ...
  • Remembering: The Garden 26 April 2011 Stubbornly I kept trying the wheelchair. On Sunday, April 25, we made our last attempt. I took Oma into her garden for a few minutes. She just could not appreciate it. I have a video of one of our forays. I’m not sure why I made it except perhaps to remind me of how simultaneously ...
  • Remembering: The Battle 26 April 2011 While Alex and I were in Vienna, my mother, Dagmar, had gone home to the US. Still, we had WiFi and Skype at Oma’s house and so we often talked with Dagmar, usually every day. She was very aware that the situation had turned for the worse and had prepared for that even before we ...
  • Remembering: Utzi, Opa, and Trude 27 April 2011 Today was Tuesday, April 27. Oma was mostly sleeping, wearing a morphine patch, and we were not even going to try to get her to exercise or get in the wheelchair. That seemed past. Dagmar suggested I get in touch with Oma’s dear friend, Tante Trude. Trude is also a great grandmother, from Oma’s generation, ...
  • Remembering: Apfel Suppe 28 April 2011 The morning of Wednesday, April 28, one year ago: Oma’s condition has been worsening, though growing more calm, since Monday. We are now firmly on a palliative course, with a morphine patch in place, and only pain medications being administered. She is more or less out of touch, when she does speak, it is mostly in ...
  • Remembering: The Walk 28 April 2011 Alex and I were up early and Oma was still, blessedly, sleeping. After sending an update to the family, I wanted to get out of the house, into the woods. Anna said she had everything under control and gave us leave to head out. America would not wake up for hours yet, the day was ...
  • Remembering: Release 28 April 2011 I spent the whole afternoon of Wednesday, 28 April, with Oma, listening to her breath, helping her turn from side to side, watching trying to keep her weakly circulating blood from pooling on one side or the other. From time to time she would sip water set on her lip, but not much. She ate ...

You may also want to check out Alex’s reflections on the time he spent in Austria with me caring for Oma. If you want to know a bit more about Oma and her life, check out the Oma pages on our family wiki. Take care! Thanks for stopping by.

Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 / efc@clst.org