I don’t think there’s any other place in the world where I have more memories than Oma’s House.
Oma was the first owner of her condo unit when it was built in the late 80s, and the basement was designed specifically for our countless family gatherings that we had for 25 years until she passed away at the age of 92.
I remember vividly the last time I was visiting, just one week before she died — not having any idea it would be the very last “Sunday at Oma’s.”
One day I will live here, I thought. This feels like home.
While everyone else was chatting, I mentally arranged my furniture and figured out where my piano would go (turns out a grand piano is much bigger than I thought, so that plan had to be revised later on).
What a shock when just a week later we were planning her funeral. She had gone into the hospital on Tuesday with pneumonia, and by Sunday she was with Jesus.
We all took turns sitting with her at the hospital around the clock so she was never alone.
For some reason, she picked me to be the one with her when she took her last breath. I still remember it like it was yesterday. So hard, but also so special.
The opportunity to live at Oma’s did not come immediately, as I was not in the financial position to buy her place so soon. So my uncle bought it and rented it out for a few years, then sold it to me a few years later when it was more feasible.
Oma’s House was always a place for people to land when they came from out of town. Everyone knew Oma and she was always ready for guests at a moment’s notice — complete with coffee and cookies and all the meals.
I always dreamed of carrying on that legacy. But the reality was that I needed roommates to make ends meet, so they occupied the basement for a few years.
Now that I’m able to scrape by without full-time occupants, the dream to make my lower level into a guest house is now more realistic. Decorating does not come naturally to me, but I’ve been able to make it reasonably cozy and I’ll keep working at it.
When Oma lived here, we always came in here through this back entrance from the garage.
As much as I loved Oma, her taste in décor I did not so much. I have had no qualms about making it my own and removing the, umm…. beautiful border was a top priority. The canvas at the bottom is one of my daddy’s photos.😍
We used to push my brother down these stairs when he was about three years old. He’d sit in a plastic baby bathtub that was intended for the dolls, and down he went! We called it his sewer boat and always made sure my mom wasn’t around to put a stop to our fun.🤣😂
Looking upstairs from the same entrance during Oma’s days.
My dear kitty has since decided that the plush 80s carpeting makes an excellent scratching post, so it’s looking a little more beat-up these days. Will include a current photo whenever I get around to taking one.😜
When you come down the stairs now, the kitchen looks like this.
I’ve never been crazy about the orangey trim, but somehow ending up with matching furniture and decor, it’s growing on me. I think I’ll leave it for now.
The floor definitely needs replacing, but considering it’s been there for almost 35 years, I’d say it’s doing pretty well.
Memories from the Kitchen
Evidence of family gathering in progress…
No historical photos seem to exist of the bathroom, at least not that I can find.
Which is totally understandable.
We used to play hide & seek with Oma’s toys, and one time my cousin hid one of the stuffed bears under the sink and it took us forever to find it.
That bear smelled like pee after that, with a yellow-ish tinge to it. No one wanted to fess up or play with it after that. So it just became the rejected bear.
This bathroom is where I experienced the harsh reality that a diet of exclusively wheat, dairy and sugar does not bode well for some digestive tracts.🤣😝🤢
This is about all there is to it. I added a full-length mirror and some outdated art that I made with my papa, because I just can’t let go of it yet.
The Big Room
This is where all the action happened. Where we gathered for noodle soup lunch, Sunday faspa, snacks and Oma’s cookies… so many cookies.
This is where us kids were left to play while the grown-ups went upstairs to spazier in the living room.
This is where we invented all kinds of games, like Alligator Tag, and got a lot of carpet burns.
This is where we learned to quilt with Oma (sort of… usually we preferred to play while she quilted). She made so many quilts, I don’t think anyone knows for sure how many. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was hundreds.
This is where we celebrated Christmas and birthdays and all the things in between.
It’s where every year we would help Oma set up her tree and Christmas décor.
It’s where we played A LOT of games. If you dare to play Dutch Blitz with anyone in my family, you can be sure you’ll lose! We’re very serious about this.😂🏆
It’s where I tried on Oma’s wedding dress, never dreaming that my daddy would never get to walk me down the aisle for real.😥
The Last Faspa. After Oma was gone, we got together in The Big Room one last time before cleaning out last of the stuff in the house.
This is where you’d find the good stuff. Cookies, chocolates and coke were always there.
Now it’s my Pocalypse Pantry😁
Usually this space was off limits, because it was for napping babies or used for guests — but sometimes we got to have sleepovers here too, and whispered until the wee hours of the morning.
Poor Oma was right above us, I sure hope she was able to get some sleep!
Along with the bathroom, it seems that the playroom, where all the toys were kept, never made it into anyone’s photos — at least not that I can find.
And it’s currently exploding with all the random stuff that I’m working on organizing and purging, so it’s not photo-worthy at this point. Imagine a small room with a closet, just big enough for a twin bed and a dresser and enough space to turn around in.
Even though it’s been years, I still call it The Playroom. Just like the Independent is still IGA, and the drug store, whatever it’s called now, is still Big V.
I’m old now, so it’s okay to be stuck in my ways.😜🤣
If Oma knew that I live here now, and could see what I’ve done with her place, she would be so, so proud😍💕 I don’t think I’ll ever be quite as good as she was at hosting, but I’m still going to try!