Erna Martha Lafata

One of the first things Oma told me when I sat for a minute with her on her front porch was about the two towering trees in her front yard. I kneeled next to her so I wouldn't miss a word of her soft cadenced German accent. She had planted them herself as little saplings nearly 60 years ago, when her and Opa (grandfather) first moved into their house. Sixty years ago, the old house everyone now knew as Oma's house had been brand new. Sixty years ago, she had been in her early thirties and newly married, and new to America. Over the course of those years, she raised six children, outlived her husband, and lived to see her family continue to grow. 

Erna Martha Lafata was her name, but I knew her as Oma. Oma means grandmother in German.  I was blessed to know her, and am so thankful we made the trip out to Michigan last summer, or I might never have met Jon's beloved Oma. She was this amazing woman who had an amazing life, and she had a history as thick as her German accent. She was originally from Rotenburg, Germany. She had lived through World War II, and had even been a Red Cross nurse until falling in love and marrying an Italian American soldier. They moved to a small house in St. Clair Shores, Michigan where they lived for the rest of their lives. 

When Jon got the call that Oma had passed away, it was an answer to prayer as well as a painful goodbye. She had been in pain, and we had all prayed the Lord would relieve her. We didn't have to think twice before packing up, boarding the dogs, and hopping in the car for the 13 hour drive to Oma's. We went straight to the funeral home. When we got there, it was then that Oma's legacy really hit me. She had six kids, who went on to have fourteen grandchildren, and nearly thirty great grandchildren. And nearly everyone made it to the funeral, and from all over the States. It was really beautiful. Everyone she loved came to celebrate her life, flip through the thousands of pictures she had of everybody, reminisce about their summers in Michigan with Oma, and all commune together one last time before departing on their ways again. I am thankful to now call this family mine.