Nana | Teen Ink


May 15, 2008
By Anonymous

My great grandma was petite. When my eyes first hit the wrinkles embedded in her creamy pale skin my mind wandered to think that she had possibly shrunk since the last time I had seen her. Still aghast from Hitler’s reign over her home-land, I was surprised that she lasted in Germany for so long on her own and never desired to come live in America where she had relatives. Around 1939, I was told her husband was forced to be enrolled in the war so she spent all of her days and nights alone afraid to come out of her house, hoping everyday that the seamless violence come to an end and her sweetheart would come back to her. He never did, and was killed in the combats of Japan. I never met my "great" grandpa, so when my father told me the stories it never had a melancholy affect on me. I would just think of how he was forced to do all these terrible things, at those thoughts I could feel my bones underneath my skin hollowing and i would be penetrated to cringe.

My dad kept in touch with his grandmother in Germany and always asked her, every single letter why she refused to come live in America where she had him and his family and every time he got the same answer. Sometimes the existence of my great grandmother slipped my mind, being I had only seen her once in my fifteen years of breathing. One day though my father surprised my brother and I with the news that we would be spending a week in Germany visiting our Great Grandmother, so we should brush up on our German because she knew very little English. The first time I ever saw her was when I about seven years old, and during that time in Germany she gave me a gifted me with a necklace. It portrayed my shy neck with a glamorous appeal for a seven year old so I wore it when I would play dress up, or wanted to look grown up. With the fear I would lose it my mother always stole it back from me because she knew as a seven year old I would misplace it and i am so thankful for that now, because now i wear it everyday and I will certainly be taking it with me to show her I still have it and wear it close to my heart.
The long week finally came to a close and I was so excited to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to see my long lost relative. I wondered in the back of my mind if she was excited to see me as well and if she had thought about how different I would look since she saw me last eight years ago. We landed softly in Munich a fairly popular German city and it was beautiful. There was a wide river flowing through the city and many fascinating buildings with red roof-tops. There were also markets set up and tons of people walking around and riding bicycles going through there everyday rituals.
I remembered what my great grandmother looked like but it had been a long time since I had seen her last so I was excepting her to look aged but I didn’t really know what she would look like. I was picturing her looking wrinkled and sickly but when we knocked on the door of her apartment she didn’t look at all sickly. She stood before us with a soft smile balanced upon her face without showing her teeth, I guess she had been working on her English as well because the first thing she said was “Hello everyone! Come in.” My dad spoke softly to her in a form of German that he learned long ago when he was in college but somehow he still remembered some things and was able to impressively converse with her. When it was my turn to say hello to her I tried to talk to her with some words I had learned over the past month and it worked for a while but when she started asking me questions about my school and friends I stopped being able to comprehend and fell back on “Schade, ich verstehe nicht” which meant “sorry I do not understand”. She didn’t seem to mind that my German wasn’t good but what she was really focused on was the necklace that complimented my neck. The moment that she saw it draped around my neck she smiled softly and even though we barely knew each other because of the distance that was in between us I knew that she was so happy to see that I had still had what she had given me after all the years I had seen her last. She looked up at me after she saw that the necklace she had given was around my neck with bright blue blissful eyes and I stared sympathetically back. I wanted to tell her that I wore it everyday and it meant so much to me but I didn’t know the right words to say, so I hoped that she knew figured I didn’t anyways. My mother and brother didn’t really know any German at all so when they wanted to talk to her my father or I would tell them some easy things to say. She loved trying to converse with us and even though we were so different when we talked, I felt so close to her, although I barely knew her.
She met us in our hotel room the next day. I thought to myself how sad it was that she did everything alone. That would depress me so much, but I suppose that it makes our company or whenever she has company that much better. We were all getting ready for the day and getting dressed and my great grandmother was sitting on the edge of the bed observing everything that we were doing and swooping her head down on occasion to read a travel brochure. Her ivory skin gleamed off the shiny paper from the travel guide and her big blue eyes focused on what she was reading her soft auburn hair was pinned up with bobby pins into a neat bun in the back of her head. When we were all done getting ready we walked around the city and went out to lunch, she would point at things that she thought we would find interesting and a few times she showed us around a few stores that she visits regularly. Her and my dad talked as we walked around and everything was really beautiful, I really liked the city.
When it was time for us to leave it was really sad because we all knew that we would probably never see my great grandmother again and my dad would most likely never see his grandmother again although she did seem extremely healthy for a woman of 87 years of age. Even though we had to leave I knew that the bond we built while I was there would stay strong through out our harshly large distance. When I got back home I would write to her in as most German as I could and then what I didn’t know how to say I would just write in English which probably looked really confusing to her. A few times I got letters sent back but they stopped coming a few years ago when we found out that she died. She wasn’t sick or anything just old. My family was very sad that we never got to see her again but at the same time we rejoiced that we got to spend the time with her that we did.

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