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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Opa-isms

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


My Opa
Do you remember back when you were a child and your grandma or grandpa used to have these sayings?  That they repeated over and over again to you?  So much so, that you find yourself able to repeat them from memory many years later?  My German opa used to have his theories and sayings, and in light of his birthday coming up, where he would've been 100, I thought I'd share some of them.  I think some of them are even true!

My favorites:

  • Whenever someone in my family talked about traveling, he would ALWAYS say, "why would you want to go there?  The houses there stand next to each other just like they do here!"  I guess in a way he was correct.  People are people wherever you go, and even though things may look a little bit different, you'd be surprised at how much things can be the same.  I took this to mean that I should also take the time to enjoy my home, wherever that was at the time, and now I take the time to really find the hidden gems in my local area instead of always longing to go somewhere else.
  • Always make sure your gas tank is half full.  You'll never, ever run out of true!  I don't think I've ever run out of gas in my life.
  • Don't drink cold stuff.  My opa used to heat up a pot of water and dunk his beer bottle into a warm water bath before drinking it.  He never drank anything cold in his life!  He always thought that all the stomach cancers and abundance of stomach problems of Americans were caused by cold drinks and ice, taking off the mucous layers in your digestive system, damaging it he used to say.  I have personally found no medical evidence of this....but you know, it does make sense.  I'll let you draw your own conclusion on this.  I guess this may explain why Europeans are not so fond of ice cubes and really cold drinks and have less instances of stomach issues and cancers?  Maybe?
  • Drafts coming in windows can make you sick, and if you have wet hair, you'll get really sick.  I still remember driving around Germany in the summertime....with ALL the windows closed! This was before cars had air conditioning in Germany!  I can't believe I survived that without dying of heat stroke....either I was much hardier back then or Germany was not so hot in the summer before global warming turned European weather upside-down.
  • Even though opa made the comment about traveling, it didn't stop him from being one of the first Germans to board a commercial flight to Italy, and just in time for his honeymoon in the era before WWII.  He was also the first man in his village to have a car after the war.  How did he do that when everyone else was broke?  He was always a master of wheeling and dealing.  He taught me (and mostly my mother) to always look two steps ahead in any business deal.  For example, he saw that after the war, everyone wanted...err...needed chocolate.  He saw the Jewish businessmen who were left in his part of Germany (with help from the Allies), had the supplies, so he struck a deal with them as a whole.  He knew they wanted tea, so he figured out how to collect and package it....sold it to them (because no one else was, and darn they wanted that tea)...bought the chocolate from them...and sold the chocolate at prices-to-make-a-profit to the average German.  The profits were so tidy over the long-run, that he was able to buy the first car in his little village after the war, and a Mercedes at that (he only mentioned later that the thing didn't have a floor...kind of like the Flinstones I'm thinking).  He got his business going again while everyone else was out of work and still scratching their heads!  His "two steps ahead" thinking also saved him from being killed on the Eastern Front....almost his entire unit was decimated, and he survived.  Obviously I'm not anywhere near that good in trying to always look ahead, but I like to think I at least TRY to do this myself in day-to-day life and make him a little bit proud!
Opa, I miss you and your humor too!  I miss how you used to reach up behind the doorframe and "find" a gumball for me.  My opa ran a candy &  liquor wholesaler (in other words, a little kid's dream), and my childhood visiting my grandparents was spent crawling up and down the big wooden shelves in the warehouse filled to capacity with cookies, candy, chocolate, coffee...and hard liquor, huh?  I guess the hard liquor was the "grown up candy" and used to sell REALLY well, hence the later addition of that.  I used to love feeling like a grown-up when you took me on your rounds, delivering and selling your wares to the local stores and the years before the superstore.   And every year, you made such a big deal of taking me to the fancy shoestore to get my new shoes....unfortunately, they were always the brown clunker Salamander brand and nothing fancy, but you made me feel special anyway in the process, as I was the center of attention (every child's second dream).

I miss you Opa and happy birthday!  I know you and Oma are looking down and watching over us this holiday season, and thank-you for all the wonderful opa-isms which I am now teaching my children!



Blogger Norbert said...

Mit viel Freude habe ich diese Zeilen gelesen und mich an vieles erinnert. Auch meine Kindheit war geprägt von den Sprüchen, besser Lebenserfahrungen, meiner Familie. Heute lebe ich in dem Haus vom Opa der Autorin und weis genau was sie vermisst. Aber, liebe Autorin, Du weisst ,das Du und Deine Familie in Opoa`s Haus immer willkommen bist.
Ibo und Norbert

December 19, 2010 at 6:15 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Norbet & Ibo....Ihr habt Mich gefunden:-))) Frohe Weihnachten! Danke fuer die Einladung. It is SO nice to hear from the family now living in my Opa's have done a WONDERFUL job with the house, and it is truly a historic landmark in the town!

December 19, 2010 at 6:58 PM  
Blogger tootie said...

What a sweet post! He sounded like a wise man!

December 19, 2010 at 7:09 PM  

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