Family Heirloom Has Special Meaning

A cherished locket received as a Christmas gift many years ago holds a special place in granddaughter’s heart and jewelry chest.

| January/February 2014

  • Granddaughter cherishes a special locket received from her Lenchen Oma.
    Photo By Ursula Turner

Every once in a while, when I go to my jewelry chest to get something out I want to wear, I reach way into the back and pull out a locket that is very dear to me. The locket is quite large and has my grandmother's initials on the front. A small, pink, cloisonné rose above the initials is the only color on the locket. After rubbing it between my fingers for a few minutes, I usually put it back.

I received this locket from my grandmother – my mom’s mother – whom we called Lenchen Oma. Helene Müller had two daughters, four grandsons and two granddaughters, and she was good to all of us. She didn't have much, but when we where younger, she never forgot our birthdays, and we all received a little something for Christmas. Later, she suffered from what is now called Alzheimer's, although it didn't have a name back then. She eventually became terribly forgetful and couldn't even remember our names.

Lenchen Oma was short and round, as was my mother, and as am I. I can remember her only with snowy white hair. She always wore dresses and tied on kitchen aprons when cooking or doing housework.

I hated it that my grandmother lived so far away. It required a train trip of a little over half an hour with a layover of an hour to change trains. We had to walk a mile and a half to get to the train station at our end, while it was only a few blocks to catch the train on Lenchen Oma's end.

We went for a visit during almost every school vacation. It worked out that way because my father was a teacher, so when he didn’t have to work, my sister and I didn’t have school. Mom didn't work outside the house, except to tend her garden, so her schedule was pretty flexible.

Our main reason to take this trip so often was for Dad to help his parents, who lived in the same town as Lenchen Oma, with their small farm. I spent most of my time with Lenchen Oma, my aunt and my cousins, who all lived in the same house. I didn't spend much time with my paternal grandparents because I was scared of my grandfather, and my grandmother was a stern woman who seldom smiled.



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