18 February 2009

Recovering from 90th Birthday Party

So this weekend I flew all the way across the continent to join the rest of my family in celebrating my mother's mother's 90th birthday. It was a long day of travel - pretty much 24 hours worth - but you can't miss a 90th birthday.

My grandmother, I call her Oma, is a pretty amazing woman and the fact that she has made it to 90 and is the only one of her generation of her family to do so is quite remarkable. She is a survivor against incredible odds being as she was a German speaking Mennonite in a Jewish village in the Ukraine, Russia in 1919. Between the Russian revolution and the second world war she lost everything she had including most of her family - she was always on the wrong side simply by birthright. But she was clever and cunning and she survived and came to Canada as a refugee. At 89 she finally became a Canadian citizen after living there more then 50 years.

However, the exact details of her life are a bit of a mystery as my sister and I found out when we tried to make party favors using an old photo of her. We wanted to add some details to the photo card - where she was born, when she was married, when she came to Canada. This proved much more difficult then we anticipated and of great dispute among family members. We couldn't even pin down the age she was when the photograph was taken. At the birthday she told my mother she was 35, me she was 15, and my sister she was 25.

It was a lovely party - I think she enjoyed it. It was a lovely moment to spend with my family, to see them all there, to all pitch in and create this gift for her. And then I flew all the way back across the continent, picked up the Disreputables, then drove 4 hours in a blizzard to arrive home sometime after 1:30am last night. As a result I'm a bit bleary eyed today. Not to mention the fact that I spent the weekend in a time zone four hours different then my own.


  1. Eastern Europe was a rough place to be in the first half of the last century; my relatives lost 70% of their families and all of their property. From the stories of the day, I have no idea how any of them survived. I am glad to hear that your grandmother went on to have a better life, and that your family had prepared such a special celebration for her!

  2. These huge family moments are so much more important than we know at the time.

    A friend told me that when she gave me a ticket to attend my grandmother's funeral, when I couldn't afford it some years back.

    I'm glad your trip was for a birthday.

  3. It sounds like your grandmother has lived an amazing life thus far. I can't even imagine how I'd survive under such conditions. I think that it's great that you and your family were able to have such a great gathering in her honor.

  4. 90. Fantastic

    The May Queen calls my parents Oma and Opa. ;)

  5. That sounds wonderful, your grandma must be quite a lady, especially having survived all that harrowing experience of E. Europe as it was then.

    I'm so glad her 90th was a good occasion for you all.

  6. Wow, what a great occasion!

    My mother-in-law has been in Canada since 1960, and only applied for citizenship last year (when they changed the rules so that you have to reapply for the permanent resident card every 5 years, in an attempt to push people towards citizenship). I'm glad to know she's not the only one!

    As my Dad said to her: "well, it's important not to rush into these things".

  7. The Goose and I missed my granddads 90th birthday in 2005 because of a stomach virus. I look forwards to for my Gram's anniversary in 1212.

  8. It's a strange thing, but the older I get the more I like hearing these stories of old people whose lives are enriched by the love of family and friends.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Please leave your messages here...I am always delighted to have comments!