My paternal great grandmother was Magdalena Cherrier Nothum. She was born April 15, 1867. She died on my 13th birthday, December 16, 1961.
Great Grandma immigrated from Romania in 1938 when she was 72 years old. She was deaf, and spoke only German. She was 82 years old when I was born. Although there was a language and hearing barrier, as children, we didn’t think anything of it. She was sweet and kind. When she saw me, she would call me “Kindie,” which was pronounced to my young ears as “Kinnty”. The word “kind” (pronounced with a short “i”) is child in German. I presume that adding the “y” to the end would mean small child, although I am guessing.
When I was a young child, she lived next door at my Grandparent’s home. I was in second grade when we moved from the north county of St. Louis to Sunset Hills, a suburb in southwest county of St. Louis. Sometime while we lived at our new home, Great Grandma moved in with her single daughter, Anna, who lived in south St. Louis.
Many of my younger cousins were afraid of her because of her austere looks. I was never afraid of her. I just remember feeling loved when I was around her.
When we would visit her. My sisters and I would tell her stories, sing, and dance for her.
She seemed to enjoy it and acted as if she loved every song and story, although she could not hear a thing we said. I remember one time when we visited, one of my sisters asked her to read us something. She reached for her German Bible and read us a passage—no idea what it was. Then she sang a hymn.
We usually visited with her on Sunday afternoons and my sister would show her the comic section from the newspaper. It was a comic strip called “Grandma.” We thought she looked just like the grandmother in the comic strip. She would laugh when we showed her the comic.
Great Grandma Nothum fell and broke her hip. Back in those days the hospital kept the patient with a broken hip in bed, and did not move them. She developed pneumonia and passed away on my 13th birthday. I was so sad. She was the first person in my world to die.
Despite the hearing and language barrier, love speaks loudly. I never doubted her love for her family. I definitely felt it every time I saw her. I don’t think I’m the only one who felt that way—I have a cousin and a niece who were named after her.