I lived in Germany twice as a kid. The second time (ages 5-8), my grandma came to live with us after the first year. She became my backseat-mate on the many long trips we took in our teensy, weensy VW Rabbit. She was also my playmate, tent-mate when we camped—which was very, very often, maybe too often, Dad—and built-in babysitter.
Did I mention I was an only child?
Maybe it was because she’d once been a kindergarten teacher—or more likely it was why she became one—but my grandma had a youthful spirit that lasted until her death at age 93. She was playful, adventurous, and just plain fun.
One of our more memorable travel moments happened while riding a city bus—somewhere in Europe, I can’t remember quite where. We decided to pretend we were speaking a foreign language. So we just made up words on the spot, talking in complete nonsense to each other, but speaking English to my parents who were probably back there rolling their eyes (or maybe hiding their faces).
Finally after several minutes, the guy ahead of us turned around and asked us what language we were speaking. I must have blushed five shades of pink when we admitted we’d just been goofing around.
I’m not sure if he was honestly curious or just wanted us to shut up, but we recovered quickly and found a new game.
When I think back on our time overseas, my grandma was only there for a year-and-a-half of it, but she dominates my memories. Sledding in Switzerland, riding the loop-de-loop at the Oktoberfest in Munich, letting me “take her out” to dinner at the restaurant around the corner from our housing area in Heidelberg.
Leaning into each other in the back seat every time we went around a corner, listening to her stories about her prankster father and always-getting-into-some-mess sister.
If I have even half of her spark and sense of adventure, I’m a lucky woman. I know I’m lucky to have had such an amazing lady as my grandmother.
Who had a big influence on your life?
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