Monday, July 14, 2008

Saying goodbye.

The family gathered in Marshall Monday afternoon to say goodbye to Brett's Aunt Oma. The tributes offered that day showed what a wonderful Christian woman Oma was, never uttering a harsh word, always keeping a positive attitude, constantly loving and accepting people for who they were.

Among the speakers was Brett. Here's what he had to say about his beloved aunt:

First off I just wanted to thank you, Rick, for asking me to say a few things about Aunt Oma. I’m certainly honored to do so.

If you ask any of Nanny Hicks and Pike Ikey’s grandkids about Aunt Oma, you’ll likely get a similar response. Oma was cool. So cool, in fact, that she made The Fonz look like Bill Gates.

Other than her calm demeanor, welcoming presence, and laid back attitude, one of the first things that tipped me off about Oma’s coolness when I was very young was her choice of beverage at Thanksgiving and Christmas. While all the adults got boring old tea, there was Oma with her Pepsi or Coke. Seems like a silly thing now, but when I was 6 or 7 years old, it made an impression.

Over the years, whether I encountered Oma in Marshall, in Arkansas or at my parents’ house in Fort Worth, Oma’s inherent coolness manifested itself again and again.

When you rode in the car with Oma, you could eat, drink, be merry, and listen to rock music. When you talked to Oma, her calming voice and gentle laugh would immediately put you at ease. When you played Scrabble with Oma, talking, laughing, and eating were more important than the game itself. I’m certainly going to miss seeing her at my Mom and Dad’s each and every New Year’s Eve.

Now, going to Oma’s house was an experience unto itself. For starters, she let her kids write their friends’ phone numbers on the wall behind the telephone. If that’s not the very definition of cool, I don’t know what is.

Oma had this insanely steep driveway that led straight into the highway. And her front yard was shaded entirely by pine trees and covered with pine needles, with nary a strand of grass. Her carport was a great place for us kids to hang out, and her backyard was even better. There was a swing, a beautiful collie named Lassie, and a huge apple tree that grew the biggest, juiciest apples you ever saw. As a kid, I wasn’t a big fan of apples, but Oma could take those prosaic pieces of fruit and turn them into golden, delicious, fried apple pies with impossibly flaky crust. I also remember those big, sticky, yummy pots of Smores that she and Lisa used to make in that busy kitchen, which never quite seemed totally clean or properly organized.

At Oma’s house, you never had to worry about having dirt on your shoes, you could slam the door with impunity, and every room seemed warm, lived in, and welcoming. Oma made clutter seem cool. Especially interesting was Randy’s room, with its boxes and boxes of comic books and magazines. I used to hang out in there for hours, poring over those printed pages, and neither Oma nor Randy seemed to mind.

While we’re on the subject of Randy and Oma’s house, there’s a…rather serious topic I need to discuss. I distinctly remember Randy pulling off a seemingly impossible feat…with his feet. Randy would jump up, grab onto a beam, thrust his body upward, and somehow stomp his feet flat onto the ceiling, leaving these huge, dirty footprints. I also remember Randy lifting weights, drawing these incredibly cool pictures of barbarians and super-heroes, and chugging milk out of the fridge straight from the jug.

And who could forget Kathy. With her flannel shirts, groovy attitude, junky cars, and loud music blaring from her room, Kathy always appealed to my inner hippie. I loved listening to her play the guitar, and, unlike certain people (David, cough, Scott, cough), she was always, without fail, sweet to us younger kids.

And Lisa, may God rest her soul, she was an object of fascination as well. It seemed to me like she and my sister Kelly would laugh the entire time they were together. Unfortunately, I never had a clue as to what was so funny. I also remember Lisa dressing up her cats and feeding them from baby bottles. The fact that Lisa passed before her mom is something I’m sure Oma never got over.

Indeed, Oma’s kids were a big part of what made her so darned cool.

Speaking of kids, my children, Ryan and Katie, loved Oma very much. Ryan had this to say: “She was always great and really happy.” And Katie had this to say: “She was a good example for those who were younger and older.”

My wife loved Oma as well. Oma reminded [See] more than a little of her own mother, which is about as big a compliment as you can give to anyone.

In addition to being a loving aunt, mom, and sister, Oma was a wonderful grandmother and great grandmother.

Rachel…we’re all very sorry that you’ve had to deal with so much tragedy in your young life. There’s no doubting that Oma loved you, your family, and your brother very much.

Although Aunt Oma lived a good, long life of 75 years, raising three kids and influencing countless other lives in the process, her passing seems much too soon to those of us who loved her. We will miss you, Oma.

No comments: