When I think about my Oma, I think about two things: strength and coffee.
My Oma, my Dutch grandmother, migrated to Australia in the 1960s along with her husband (my Opa) and their three children. They came with little more than a few bags and an idea of a new life. Australia was a foreign land, and it didn’t always come easy but they achieved what they had set out for. My Oma credits a familial reliance on sterke and nuchter, or strength and a level-headed nature. If I was to add something else to this, making it the trinity of all things Oma, I would add coffee.
Recently I flew up to NSW from Melbourne to see my Oma and my mum who was visiting her at the same time. I’m always grateful when I have the opportunity to see my Oma because during my childhood we lived on opposite sides of the country. In 2010 during a stint living in Brisbane, I was (for the first time in my life) just short train and bus ride away, and I loved the ease of which I could pop down and see her. We would walk along the seaside on the Gold Coast, talk about her life and mine, and sit down for a coffee and a cake. The last factor became our little routine, something like a ritual.
It’s been a few years since my time in Brisbane, but it’s amazing how little our routines had changed. Fresh off the three-hour train ride from Sydney to Berry, overcome by travel sickness, I throw myself into the arms of my colourful mother decked out for a very warm NSW winter day and my Oma, strong as ever. Then, we go for coffee.
The next four days is more of the same. We explore the town that my Oma and Opa lived in for years, where they opened their famous bakery, and where my Oma returned years later to a community that still remembered her. It’s something I always love to see, people who know her and care about her, I think everyone should have a place like that. We stroll through Berry and Nowra, hitting the second hand shops, we head on over the Berry mountain to Kangaroo Valley for a wander amongst the antiques, we journey up to the Camberwarra lookout and then we go down to the seaside at Huskisson. Along the way we enjoy coffee and cake, each stop a new opportunity to see the world through a new brew, comment on the talent of the bakers, and enjoy the surrounds. I joke to Dean that it’s no surprise we get so much done in four days, we were positively buzzing on caffeine!
There’s a lot I’m grateful for in my life. I have a fantastic partner, I have a decent job, an opportunity to study, and a family who love me. However, through all the hardships and the challenges, I think one of the things I’m most grateful for is inspiring women like my Mum and my Oma who show me that, no matter what happens, life is best lived strong and with a level-headed outlook. We all have our difficulties, but after all life is a great many things, and easy is not always one of them.
So, here’s to lots of cups of coffee, lots of different adventures, and lots of love I have for two special women in my life: my Mum and Oma. We are three generations of strong, level-headed women, and I’m proud to be a part of that.