Nine Days From Now

In nine days from now we are flying to Berlin. We are staying for over two months in Germany, mainly in Berlin where we have rented a holiday apartment.

Considering our age,  I would say it is our last trip to the old homeland. So, it will be an undertaking with  a heavy heart. I love Berlin, as one would love his mother. I also love Australia as one would love his chosen bride. There is no conflict between those two loves.

We came here to provide a better future for our children. What ever that means, “a better future”? We came with two children, added two  and now have  three left after the recent loss of our eldest daughter Gaby.

On the way to Australia 1959

And here we are on our anniversary in 2006.

What will we find in Berlin? No real surprises, I suppose. After having lived in Australia for over fifty years we are seeing Berlin in a different light from when we still lived there. Berliners can’t see what is so special about their city. It is such a dynamic place. Tucholsky knew Berlin well. The Berliner is a restless human, always on the go (keine Zeit, keine Zeit). Fontane and Tucholsky knew, and described, Berlin well. Such outstanding persons are missing today.  Visitors, especially the young ones, pick up on the   prevailing spirit and they love it. The official media is stumm about it. Just as well, as on some weekends Berlin has two million visitors (Easter and Pentecost). And now we will add to it. If nothing else, Berlin is the city of public transport. You can always use different means to get to where you want to go.

They always talk about the “Big Red” bus of London. What abpout the “Big Yellow” one in Berlin?

When in Berlin take the “Bus 100” for a sightseeing trip at normal fares. But don’t forget to climb to the top and sit in the front row. It will blow you away.

We will enjoy our stay in Berlin, I’m sure of that. There will be a tinge of sadness creeping in, though, because it could be the last time. Our age is becoming a limiting factor in our lives. But for now it is:
Berlin here we come

To Gaby: 28 August 1957 – 2012

You were a rare and beautiful flower !

Dear Gaby,
today 55 years ago you were born. When I heard the good news in the early hours of that day in 1957 I cried with happiness for you and your Mum. I wish you were still here so I could congratulate you for the good life that you lived, despite fate having given you a massive hurdle to overcome. But you did it !!! You put us all to shame with your zest for life. This zest for life you shared with the great German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe whose birthday you shared too. Here is what he wrote and you will understand, because you felt the same:

“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration; I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”
Wasn’t that you? You spread the “good climate” and shared your attitude to life with the rest of us. Your birth and your life was a gift to us from the creator as the meaning of your name is “God gives Strength”. When we chose your name we must have subconsciously foreseen what would become of you.Your life was a gift to us. Thank you for having been Gabriele, our Gaby. We love and remember you for the rest of our lives.

A beautiful life

The Fourteenth Day

Every second Thursday, for the last twenty three years, we went to Sydney, Merrylands in particular, to go shopping with our late daughter Gaby. Yesterday was that Thursday and we felt something was not right as we stayed home. We were not needed any more.

Someone had to help her with her grocery shopping. For this purpose we had to take a three hour train trip. That was the easy part as we could sit there in the train and enjoy the scenery or read the paper or an eBook or an old fashion printed book.

At the same time Gaby, with the help of many carers, got ready to meet us at the local shopping centre. To get her ready for the day took four hours every morning from about 7 o’clock to 11 o’clock. Her day started with a cup of tea and ended with a cup of tea before she was locked into her “Iron Lung”. This iron lung was really a wooden box in which a low air pressure was produced to assist her with her breathing during the night as her diaphragm did not work.

The “Tank”

When ready a taxi or the local bus took her to the shopping centre. Every bit of her daily routine was organised. She always looked immaculate. Sometimes she had her companion dog, Honey, tied to the wheelchair. She had permission to take Honey on public transport and into the shopping centre. The dog was very well behaved and much loved by the public.

Gaby and Honey wrapped up for Winter

We did all the normal things with her. Withdrawing money from the ATM, paying bills, going into the supermarket and having lunch. But lunch had to be squeezed in sometimes as she took a long time at the supermarket. She looked at everything and compared prices and products. She was the consummate consumer.

As she was a well known character, who collected also for a charity, people stopped and talked to her. Her mobile phone was ringing constantly. She always had to arrange her staff or medical appointments. Her social calendar was full and going out was a serious business for her.

My wife Uta and I we were soon exhausted. Three hours with Gaby shopping was the absolute limit for us and often we had to rush to catch the train home. Usually we fell asleep after a few minutes. This train trip took another three hours but was not so relaxed as in the morning.

Still we were always looking forward meeting and seeing her. She, as well as we, were not happy that we had not more time for each other. There were other occasions when we saw her. Living away from Sydney made it  difficult  for us to arrange more meetings. Now that she is gone, we are missing those meetings already.

My Life

What is my life?

It is the time span from my birth to my once unimaginable death. It is the short span, a flicker really,  of universal time, when we are being used by the Universe to be aware of itself. Why is the Universe so vain? Why does it need to know that it exists?

And what if an individual does not have the knowledge to appreciate his function in the scheme of things. E.F. Schumacher argues that there are four “Fields of Knowledge” and if we are not at home in all four of them we are not even able to comprehend the world around us. So, a lot of lives are wasted. Or?

Isn’t knowledge itself wasted when we die? Others will carry on where we have left off. Our knowledge has become their knowledge. Sometimes I wonder whether this is indeed so. But the world is not ending when we are gone. She muddles through, as she always does.

We had a sudden death in our family recently. It rattled us in our emotional foundations. The younger generations are not used to such events. I wonder how they feel about it. They haven’t said anything yet. Of course their  grief was obvious, but it must have altered their perception of what life is all about. The time will come when we can talk about it.

For me personally it provided more certainty that I’m heading for eternity. Life takes its course and in the end I will go back into the ocean of eternity – in fact really were I came from.