My mother called the other day to say she had a surprise for me. She’d been sorting and cleaning, and for the first time since inheriting this big old book from her mother some 25 years prior, had looked inside the cover. The book, Dr. Martin Luther in the Protestant House, is a collection of sermons, a reader intended for every good Lutheran household.Inside, my Oma (grandmother) had written a note indicating the book was meant for me. I was 12 when she passed away, already ardently scribbling poems in journals, and maybe that’s why she thought I’d enjoy it. I was still agnostic, and wasn’t yet obsessed with old things– stuff with stories. (I still found my mother’s antiques obsession beyond tedious). But maybe Oma knew what I’d become.
The book belonged to my great great grandparents, whose names (Johanna and Gustavo Klamm) are pencilled on the title page:(Their eldest daughter, Pauline Klamm, born in 1886, was my great grandmother.)
The next page records the names of their parents, my great great great grandparents, on both sides:
It’s hard to make out the old German handwriting (and in smudged pencil), but the men’s first names are August (paternal) and Johann (maternal). Discovering that one great great great grandmother was named Eleonora Grobowski bears out a lifelong hunch that some of my ancestors were Polish or Russian.
One day I’ll research it all further. For now, joyful tears of gratitude at the gift of my ghosts, finally finding its way to my hands.