Grosa, My Beloved Grandmother
Besides my parents and my little sister the most beloved person was my
grandmother, my mother's mother, 'Grosa' as
we called her. Father's mother was, of course, very dear to us, but with her
we did not have the same relationship as with Grosa because we saw her
seldom and she was much older. Grosa lived with us all the time, until her
death - she died a few days before my twelfth birthday.
Grosa was the nanny who taught us songs and prayers, Grosa told stories
whenever we asked, every day she brought us something from the market; for
the smallest present we jumped on her lap and covered her with kisses - for
pretzel, or a roll, or a pair of cherries on a V-formed stalk which we put over
ears as ear-rings. Grosa had always some specialities; her cooking was a
dream and when one of us did not like a certain dish, she prepared something
else; this concerned me, as she knew exactly what I disliked. Mira ate
everything 'that did not eat her' as my mother joked.
My father was not pleased with this 'spoiling' but he did not oppose
grandmother. However, as he and mother had no compassion with us in teaching
us 'good manners' - compassion, no; patience, yes - hundreds times they repeated:
'do not leave food on your plate, especially not when you are invited, sit straight
during your meals, do not lean back, do not put your elbows on the table, eat
quietly, do not slurp your soup, do not drink before cleaning your mouth with a
napkin, put your napkin on your lap before starting to eat, do not smack your
lips, hold your knife higher; these and many other instructions echoed in our ears.
With Grosa it was different; she permitted everything. Dear Grosa, she could
not adjust herself to the new way of life. She belonged to another world. She
was always dressed in black, she never talked about her past - we never asked her
why-but we somehow sensed that she was sad. Although she taught us our first
prayers she never went to the synagogue and mama told us that she had lost her
faith after her husband's death. She was never idle, she liked to perform her
duties: shopping, cooking or controlling the cook, mending the stockings or
doing some wonderful needlework, yet she seemed unhappy. She hated all these
new methods of education, Fr„uleins sleeping at our home, servants around her,
the new dishes and courses introduced by mother when we came from abroad.
Her end was quick; she had pneumonia and in three days it was all over. I
cannot remember that she was ever ill or in bed. She died in our flat, in her
room, the whole family around her. I shall never forget her last night and her
heartbreaking sighs. Our room was close to hers. I could not sleep and was
scared; mother sent me over to sleep in my parents' room - Mirica slept
undisturbed. It seemed to me that the night would never end. The end however,
came soon; that night my dear, sweet Grosa closed her eyes for ever.
Table of Contents