Person(s) of the week

Due to recent events I have decided to make this week’s person of the week two persons: My grandmas. Well, what brought this up is a personal tragedy that has been taking place these last few weeks, but I’ll get to that.

First of all, I think grandparents are great, generally speaking. When I was a child, I didn’t ever think about it, but I enjoyed living close to both my parents’ parents. There is one story about me when I was about three or four years old and I wanted to visit my dad’s parents. I had this little wooden scooter (which made ugly squeaking sounds) which I would take and roll down the street to my grandparents house. It wasn’t far, mybe five hundred meters and the squeaking sound was very practical for everybody, because my mom would know when I had arrived and my grandmy knew that I was coming.

If I had to decide who of my grandmas I liked most, I couldn’t say. I just love them both. My dad’s mom was like a quiet haven. During her life, she had seen a lot of things. Being born in what’s Poland today, she grew up with one sister and one brother near the German-Polish border, moving every so often because her dad was at the military. During WW II her family moved to Southern Germany, fleeing from the “battlegrounds”. In the late years of the war her brother had to join the armed forces and probably died in a combat.

After the war was over her family decided to stay here and she got married. She and her husband had five children – perhaps a reason why nothing and no-one could catch her off guard or annoy her. That is what I remember about her – being infinitely good-natured and the cooking.

On sundays she would get up early in the morning to bake “Hefezopf”, a German sweet bread made with yeast. You can see a picture of it on the left. Or she would make “Buchteln” for lunch – small rolls that are baked in the oven and served hot with vanilla sauce. You can either make only the rolls or fill them with rasines, cranberries, cherries or plums. She also grew most of the vegetables and fruits in her garden, which was huge. There were at least 10 fruit trees, like apple, pears, etc and she had a huge garden where she grew berries, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc…

You see, she was a typical stay-at-home-mom who was always there for everybody. On many sundays and during holidays all of the family (her kids, their partners, grandchildren and various aunts and uncles) would come together. But she was also socially active. Working at the local library, she became a local celebrity known by everybody in the village. Much to our all grief she died two years ago. I have to admit that I was speechless at her funeral when almost the whole village gathered to bid their farewell. Until this day I remember her really often and I still miss her very much.

My mom’s mom was a different character. Being the third of five children she grew up to be one of the most ambitious persons I have ever known. She made a apprenticeship as butcher’s assistant and shop assistant working at our local butcher’s. With her behaviour of absolute friendliness and discpline she also became a local celebrity. Can you imagine that she knew the names and the regular shopping of ALL her clients?! That must have been several hundreds…

Working 40 hours or more a week, this didn’t seem to satisfy her demand for activities. In her freetime she knit jackets, dresses and made tapestries. Some of them are over 1.5mx2m. If you ask people what they remember about her they will say that she was the most active person they knew.  She was also into fashion and always very strict with herself and minding what she was wearing…

Unfortunately, at the age of around 60 she got Alzheimer – a very heavy form of dementia that cannot be cured. My mom was the first to notice and when my grandma was about 65 doctors confirmed her guess.

I think the hardest about this disease is that you have to watch the person getting worse and can’t do anything against it. At first, it was barely noticeable, my grandma would forget some smaller things etc, but over the time it got worse. She wasn’t able to do the household, then she wouldn’t know how to dress herself properly. After some years she couldn’t orient herself outside the house which ment that she couldn’t find her way back home. About two years ago things got even worse and she has to be nursed 24-hours a day. Sometimes when I go to visit her, she looks at me, as if she recognizes that I am her granddaughter, but on most days I have the impression that she doesn’t.

Around Christmas it’s the hardest, when everybody is celebrating and happy and she doesn’t seem to know what is happening and you can’t explain it to her. It really hurts, but I hope she is still content and as long as she’s not physically hurting I suppose it’s allright in a way.

Sorry about this very personal and a bit depressing post. I wasn’t sure if I should publish this, but I suppose there are a lot of people out there who have experienced a similar situation and all of us have (had) grandmas and most of us love them, don’t we?!

Thanks for reading. Take care and enjoy every moment you have with your family…

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