Advent 1948

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The happy “Swinger”

The other day, I was sitting on the swing in the local playground and was swinging into the beautiful, sunny summer morning. Magpies were singing away in a nearby tree and a couple of Galahs, not very musical-minded, chased them away. All normal activities in the park.

Swinging is a relaxing pastime and on this day, during the time of Advent, the memories came flooding back to sixty-seven years ago in December 1948.

It was still a time of shortages and we knew Christmas would be a dull affair again. I was especially sad because my sister Ilse was away in West-Germany because of the blockade the Soviet Union had imposed on West-Berlin. There were shortages everywhere, only of the cold and hunger we had plenty of.

We had a swing hanging from the high ceiling in our hallway. I was mighty proud of it as I knew no other family with a swing. One morning in December, I was alone at home. My mother and my older sister Eva were both at work. I  was  sitting on the swing and was swinging to my heart’s content. Flying through the air, I felt like a bird. As it was the time of Advent I was also singing Christmas songs.

Nostalgia overpowered me and I was wishing for my sister to be back in Berlin for Christmas. I knew there was no way she could be back as all the borders to West-Germany were hermetically sealed off.

The thought of Christmas, without her, made me really sad and I stopped swinging and finally the swing came to a stop. As I was considering my dark mood I heard a knock on the door. I jumped off the swing and rushed to the door and when I opened the door my sister Ilse was standing there with a suitcase by her side. We hugged each other and probably screamed and shouted with sheer delight.

I swamped her with questions about her coming. She had taken a train to the border and joined some other people for a long walk through the forest. Near the border, they were joined by a guide who showed them the way. Today, people would call those helpful men, people smugglers. In those days they were heroes. They made it safely through the night to the nearest railway station in East-Germany and then by train to Berlin. And there she was.

At once we went to the police to report her return and registered her, and applied for the ration cards, with the department which issued the food vouchers. My mother was at work and had no idea what was happening at home. It made her real happy to find Ilse on her return home.

Later, just before Christmas, every person in Berlin received a free block of Sarotti chocolate. It had the familiar picture of the brown milk cows and the inscription that it was a gift from Sarotti for the suffering population of Berlin. It had especially been flown in by the planes of the Allied air forces. What a change that was: Within three years from bombing us they flew in chocolates for us!

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The future looked just that  little bit brighter for us.

Nothingness and Eternity

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“Death” is the state of “not being” after we have been alive.

We have no word describing the time before we were born. But in fact, the condition of our non-being is exactly the same.

Therefore, we can say, we have “experienced” the nothingness  already; without being able “to know “.

“Death” will only be our return to nothingness.

Our angst, or fear, of death, results from us recognising the difference of being and not being.

Therefore, our fear of death is the proof of being alive!

 

What then is life?

It is but a break in eternity!

Time exist only for the living.

Being alive is standing on the crest of a wave, but inevitable the wave will fall back and unite with the ocean of eternity!

 

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The Year 1978

In October, I wrote a blog  about our dear, late friend Ron Bates. He played a  pivotal role at that stage in our life and helped us overcome a family tragedy.

Towards the end of nineteen hundred and seventy-seven, we were looking forward to the arrival of a new member to our family. But fate had other ideas, and my wife Uta lost the baby.

Sure, it was a time of grief and disappointment but we promised ourselves to try again. Just then, Ron came up with the idea of a short vacation with some of his friends up at Numbacca Heads on the Mid-Northcoast of NSW. “That would do you the world of good,” he said.

We went up by train and on arrival were met by Ron at the station. He took us to the home of his friends, Snowy and Eve. What a lovely couple they were. They took good care of us despite not having met us before. The next few days they took us, and Ron, to show us the exceptionally wooded hinterland.

There  is a beautiful spot from where you could  view the mouth of the Numbacca River and  the landscape beyond.

We had a picnic at a nature reserve with a stand of beautiful  tall Sydney Blue Gums.

Uta and Eve among the trees

Uta and Eve among the trees

Snowy prepared a barbeque lunch.

Snowy and Ron

Snowy and Ron

 

Next day we really ‘went bush’, as they say in Australia.  We drove to  the village of  Tailors Arm.  To call this settlement  a village,  is probably a bit over the top. It is a location that has a pub. This pub became famous in the gestation of the  song, “The pub with no beer”.

Uta, Snowy and Ron posing on the veranda.

Uta, Snowy and Ron posing on the veranda.

I can tell you, we enjoyed a beautiful, refreshing beer on that day. Should we have charged the pub with false advertising?

On the next day,  Ron wanted us to meet another friend of his, Mary Boulton. She was a local identity and  had established a Pioneer Cottage at Macksville.

The Pioneer Cottage in 1978. You find other pictures on the webside.

The Pioneer Cottage in 1978. You find other pictures on the website.

Mary Boulton, Snowy and me mascarading as an explorer

Mary Boulton, Snowy and I masquerading as an explorer

Ron and I at the gate of the Pioneer Cottage

Ron and I at the gate to the Pioneer Cottage

We had a great time on that short vacation. It was also memorable because only days before I took up running and ran along the  roads at Nambucca Heads. I wanted to lose weight as I was weighing 88 kg at the time. I’m still running now about three times a week.

Nine months later we had a baby girl. Our daughter, Caroline, just had her birthday a few days ago.

Caroline and her partner Matthew.

Caroline and her partner Matthew. What a great couple they are.

That year, 1978, had a sad beginning, but it ended well.  Life was kind to us and with the help of  friends and family we found our way back into a full life. Actually, we still live in the afterglow of that year.

Everything that is happening now is the result of what has happened in the past. Be mindful of what you are doing today.