Friday, December 12, 2014

Chapter 14, part 1: Visit Oma

Daddy picked me up at the curb of the airport in a new BMW.  “Welcome home, Gigi,” he said, then immediately began loading my bags into the trunk.  “Hop in.  Your mother is at Walnut Manor helping Oma put up Christmas decorations in her room.  She thought maybe you’d like to join them.”

“I would, but …”  I bit my lip, unable to finish my thought.

Daddy met my eyes from across the car.  “You’re scared.  I understand.  It’s hard for me to see her like that too.”  His voice choked with emotion.  He got in the car and I followed suit.  

“Would you rather go home first?” he asked as he started the car.

“No, I might never make it over there if I chicken out now.”    

I studied Daddy as we drove to Walnut Manor in silence.  His hairline had receded more since I’d left home, and the temples were now tinged with gray.  

“Liebchen!” Oma crowed when she saw me, one half of her face breaking out in a big smile while the other stayed frozen.  She looked so fragile on her hospital bed.  Mom sat in a chair next to bed, holding Oma’s hand.

“Giselle just flew home from college, Mama,” Daddy said loudly.  “We came straight from the airport.  I’d better get home and make sure Kirsten and Ruthie aren’t killing each other.”  He kissed Mom and Oma each on the cheek and left.

“How are you feeling?” Mom asked me.  Concern furrowed her brow.

“I’m fine, Mom,” I said hurriedly.  I just wanted to forget about ever being sick.  “How’s Oma?”

“I’m …fine …too,” Oma said, straining to make herself clear.  “Talk to … me.  Elk River?”

“Elk River was everything you said it would be, Oma.  I love it there.  I’m even taking German classes.”

“Du sprichst Deutsch?” Her voice in German was clearer, more confident.  

“Ein bisschen,” I said, pinching my fingers together.  “Only a little.  It would be wonderful to practice with you.”

Mom and I continued setting out the decorations around Oma’s room as she directed, gesturing with her right arm.  Oma turned on the radio and we sang along with the Christmas carols as we worked.  Soon we were finished, and Oma’s increasingly slurred speech indicated that she needed to rest.  

Before we left, I promised to visit again soon.  I kept my word and saw her almost every day.  

Mom still campaigned for me to transfer to a school closer to home, but I wouldn’t hear of it.  I was on the road to recovery, no reason to drop out now.