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I never had the chance to call her grandma. Never had the chance to feel her touch, to hear her voice, to learn her scent. I was thirty-seven years too late.

To me, she is my mother’s middle name, the source of my small figure, the picture on my shelf. But that’s all. My mom rarely shares any memories; any stories about her mother. Perhaps, because she doesn’t remember much or perhaps the stories told to her by her grandmother were hers alone that she did not want to share.

Stella, my mother, was two years old when her mother, my grandmother, passed away from a weak heart. This makes me wonder how much my mom knew about her mom; how she could miss her when she was only there for two years. It makes me wonder how my mom grew to become the mother of seven when she was barely mothered herself. Yes, she was raised by her grandma and grandpa, but is that nearly the same?

Writing about this now, I wonder for the first time where my mother’s father was during all of this. Was he a bad man as he is now? Did he just leave his two daughters behind to go and start a new family? Only now have I truly thought of this, of how my mother didn’t have either parent growing up. I find it odd how I am the opposite of this situation. I have both parents, but no grandparents.

Mom was raised by Oma and Opa, or her grandma and grandpa. I never met Opa; he also died before I had the chance to meet him. I know very little about him such as he was forced into being a Nazi during World War II and that he would never speak of the war. I knew that he was a teacher at Mom’s school. I think he had a fascination with television and elephants, which was passed onto Mom- not the loving of television, but of elephants. But that’s it; that’s all I know of him.

I met Oma a few times, but I only remember one of those precious times. She had come to visit from Germany; where she lived, where her daughter had lived, and where Mom had lived. Oma always brought gifts; she always gave gifts, whether it was brought or sent. Mom says she always cleaned and cooked. Their house was spotless, their bellies always full. Whenever I try to remember her, I imagine her baking a cake or ironing a dress; or I remember that one memory. She died when I was in second grade. I barely knew her and yet I cried so hard, so many tears.

I can’t possibly imagine what Oma and Opa felt like when they lost their daughter. Like I’ve said before, this is the first time I’ve really ever truly thought about all of this. And I want to cry. How had I not realized how my mother must be feeling? How had I not realized how much being a good mom actually means to her?

I wish I could’ve met Kerstin Hahn- grandma. I think I remind Mom of her sometimes… In fifth grade, or maybe sixth, I was constantly being made fun of for being small- short and thin. I was extremely bothered by this. I remember yelling to Mom, not at her, about how I hated the way I was; hated being so tiny. That’s when she gave me the picture that still sits on my shelf.

It was smaller than wallet size and was held in a small heart frame. The picture was clearly old. Captured on this little brown rectangle was a woman and a child. The child was Mom. The woman… a stranger. She was small, 4 feet, 8 or 9 inches, as Mom told me. She had Mom’s face, my face, and over this face, she wore glasses, just as I do. She wasn’t smiling. Why wasn’t she smiling? It dawned on me that this stranger was a lot like me. But was I a lot like this stranger? If I met her, would she be proud, would she like me? Would she let me call her grandma?

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