the funeral speech I couldn't give

2001 (updated : 2008.07.02)

Among my four grandparents, one was especially dear to me – my father's mother (my "Oma")*. Yet I failed her, being unable to speak at her funeral.

My Oma was not only my only grandmother for many years (my mother's mother died when I was 3 1/2 years old) but was the plain-spoken, no-nonsense woman who could keep us in line even while pampering us. I went to visit my Oma on a fairly regular basis over the years, often going as often as every Sunday for years at a time. While my uncle Wolfgang actually took care of her and the property, I'd breeze in and out to say 'hi' and to enjoy some company. This carried on even in postcard and letter-writing right until the time she died.

Her death came shortly after I'd returned to Canada from a year and a half in Australia. I'd only just stopped in at Vancouver to visit with my brother and his wife when we got the news that she'd gone into the hospital and was hallucinating and seemed to be incoherent. We agreed with the family's conclusions that it might not be best to pester her with phone calls under such circumstances (what do you say to someone who is dying and probably isn't going to recognize you, anyway?) and simply got ready to travel back to Niagara for the inevitable funeral.

At the memorial service, my mother suggested that I speak as I had at my grandfather's funeral. But I simply couldn't.

One of the last times I'd seen my Oma was when I had taken my now-ex-fiancee and her five-year-old niece along for a visit. Zoë, the niece, had been in a crying mood all weekend, and my (now) ex and I had been at our wits' ends. But my Oma, eighty years older and speaking her second language, had been able to talk to her, get the girl to sit in her lap, and to get her in a happy mood in no time. This was the story that came to mind when I thought of speaking of my Oma's memory, but I didn't have the strength.

My return to Canada had been prompted by my first marriage engagement dissolving. As I was mulling relating that tale as the central item in a speech at the funeral, I realized that I would never again see my Oma, the ex, or the niece. I'd had to return to Canada because jobs had dried up while I was in Australia, and I was fretting about my financial state (lots of savings, no income). I was homeless, rootless, and had been out of the world for quite a while.

I've always regretted not speaking for my Oma, but I think it's also relevant to recognize that sometime our limitations are real, and that even when doing our best we're not always able to rise to every occasion.

That said, I have a feeling that my Oma might have found the strength. I suppose it comes from having handled five children during war time (and losing one of those!), but she had a knack for focusing on the important tasks. It had always endeared her to me. It looks like I'm still working on it.


*Oma is German for 'grandma' and Opa is of course 'grandpa'.

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Hi ! I just picked up XD-7 (had been procured in UK by original owner). Its really amazing to use this beauty. Really love it. ciao

narayana sharma
2010.03.05 10:20:19

Yeah, I love mine too. By comparison I find using a DSLR quite a lot like using a photocopier.

I hope you have fun and enjoy the results!


Hello...I have a Minolta XD-11 In Original Case w/ several Lenses and accesories including flash. I would appreciate it if you could advise me how and where to sell it. Guy Sullivan

Guy Sulliovan
2011.07.26 18:59:09

Hi, Gary. Thanks for writing. It likely depends on where you live, but I suspect that might be about as good as you\'ll do. Prices there aren\'t encouraging for a seller ($100 per lens, as a rule).

Which flash unit do you have? Which lenses? Some of them are still worth a fair bit of money, but there are only a few.


"When in shutter-priority mode, the film speed appears in a box in the lower-right corner of the viewfinder..." Not the films speed but shutter speed.

2011.12.05 19:26:04

Thank you for catching and reporting that mistake, Mat. I take it you\'re a fellow XD enthusiast?

Merry Christmas and have a happy new year!


Hello enjoyed reading about your lovely cameras I came across the XD7 in about 1986 and thought about buying a used one but had already bought an X-700.I now own 2 X-700's and an X-500 but still would buy a XD7 although I cannot make up my mind between black or chrome! It's interesting to hear the PX flashguns work with your XD7 which means I will be able to keep using my 132PX when I get one. Thanks Karl.

2016.02.26 21:16:07

Thanks for your comment. The PX strobes are good, if you can find one that's still got some life to it. The XD/XD-11 is hands-down the most fun I've ever had with a camera. It's tragic that we left behind such craftsmanship and simplicity. You hear the same from the turntable/vinyl music crowd and a number of other groups of adherents to certain technologies, and they all seem to date to around the same time period – the late 70's.

Sadly, I gave up my A-mount bodies for good this past summer. Both of my XD/XD-11 bodies had insurmountable, constant electronics problems that survived expensive trips to the repair shops. And my two X-700 bodies had problems with the cloth shutter that would become too expensive to repair. It's taken fifteen years, but I find that the experience of using the modern digital cameras has finally gotten roughly close enough to that of the old manual gear, and I've made the switch.

I went with a new Olympus OMD E10 MkII and a single prime lens. It's covered in buttons, literally covered, and I find myself missing the Minolta bodies on a regular basis. But I also miss the films that are now gone, the ease of development (even here in Toronto, with a population of 6m+ in the greater city, options are limited), and the time to scan film.

Good luck with your magnificent gear!


rand()m quote

When I look back at life I see that I kept the good scotch to myself. I regret that. Pour the good scotch for your guests.

—Dr. Kenneth M. Johnston (1920 - 1999)