A Woman Among Women

Excuse my diversion from men’s health, but a very important woman in my life has just passed away. My last grandmother (known as Oma) lived a fiercely independent life for over 99 years, longer than most countries.


She brought our family to America from what is now Czechoslovakia in 1950, after 1000 years of farming the land and a generation of recent persecution. She brought a husband, a son (my father) and her daughter, each with a single suitcase, to Connecticut to start life anew. And we have prospered here since. A typical immigrant story.


She lived in her own home for 56 years, preparing every meal from scratch, and died there. A simple humble, life and a simple humble death. If you got to her house too late in the morning after a winter storm, you would find her clearing the snow from her driveway well into her 90’s. I only knew her as a gray-haired grandmother, but she was a constant and a compass to the entire family: our north, our south, our east, and our west. Rooted, decisive and opinionated, she was usually right, but never wrong.


She was a woman of the land, a gardener and a grower. In the words or Rilke, she knew the sound that small flowers make when they open in the morning.


The Germans play a card game call Setback, like Bridge. If you played on her team, you usually won. It was something about those million fine wrinkles that gave her the perfect poker face.


She leaves to 6 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren on both coasts a spirited legacy of wisdom, willfulness and fortitude that will survive for generations.