30 years ago today (26 February), my Oma passed away from intestinal cancer, 1 month shy of her 66th birthday and about 1 month after the diagnosis. I was nearly 13 when she passed away, just shy of that age where you start appreciating the stories and history your parents and grandparents share with you, if you’re interested in family history and that sort of thing.
A few months ago, one of my cousins asked me what Oma was like, and one thing that struck me recently was that out of all my cousins on my Dad’s side of the family, probably only my brother Brian and I remember or knew Oma the best. Read Remembering Oma 30 Years After Her Passing
On Thursday night, Noel and I were watching a special episode of Gold Rush where the young miner Parker Schnabel was dealing with the decline of his grandfather John Schnabel. The final shots showed John celebrating his 96th birthday in a hospital in California after an operation to attempt to restore blood flow to his leg. John died a month later, peacefully, in his sleep.
The finer details aren’t totally important, but the relationship between John and his grandson Parker, on film at least, reminded me very much of my relationship with my Grandpa, who was born in the same year as John and suffered from prostate cancer the same as John, but only lived to 83 and a half, compared to John’s 96 years.
You could see that John felt the sun rose and set in Parker, and Parker didn’t seem too terribly reserved in showing his love for his grandfather. My Grandpa had always encouraged us to show our emotions, that it was okay to hug, to cry, to laugh, to tell people what they meant to you. And I think this helped make me a more caring, empathetic person.