Oma and Mamaw

Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.

“Komm Herr Jesus,” she invokes, “sei du unser Gast, und segne, was du uns bescheret hast. Amen,” and we all join in on the cross. “Vater, Sohn, und Heiliger Geist. Amen.”

I always fumbled the words.

My grandmother would lift her head and throw a scolding look at my grandfather for rushing the prayer. We all just smiled, laughed, and called out happily, “Let’s eat!”

It never occurred to me exactly what prayer must mean to my grandma. We say it every Tuesday evening we have dinner with her, and have recently taken to saying it at mealtime at our own home. We’re not religious: that is to say, my father and I. But she never gave up. She always got us to recite the Catholic prayer she grew up with. It is my only positive experience with religion. A pure, perhaps slightly timid, prayer stuck in my mind where she could only hope it would grow.

And then there’s the smell of White Diamonds and hairspray: my other grandmother. Younger than my paternal grandmother, she clings to her youth with a wild audacity that seems to slap time across the face with a bottle of dark brown hair dye and golden red highlights. I go out with her to work: she runs a new home cleaning business that I’ve worked for for as long as I can remember. I’ll never know...

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