The life of others

Besides the usual paperwork there wasn’t much to do when my grandmother passed away one year ago. She only had a few belongings in her flat in the house of my family and they were quick to sort out. She was a clear family leader with quite some principles. While I agree with some of them, others were unintentionally funny to me. For example she once went for a walk in this small town where everybody knows each other and passed a person she knew without saying “Good afternoon” or at least nodding. So her daughter asked her “Why didn’t you greet her? You know her”. My grandmother answered “She is two years younger than me! She has to greet me first!”. Both ladies were in their late 80es already.
Same with using a walking stick. Unimaginable. It would have been a sign of weakness towards anybody who would have seen her.

My other grandmother was quite the opposite. No strict rules especially in the late years, at least from my limited grandson’s view. Probably the nightmare of parents when it comes to television and sweets consumption of their child, but great as I could stay up late and spend hours of watching MTV Europe back in those days when they were still playing music clips and speaking British English only. Neither my grandmother nor me understood a single word, but it was cool.

Until a few years ago she still rode the bike to get to the supermarket. At the beginning of this year we had to realize that everything comes to end though. The funeral took place one week ago.

This grandmother never threw away anything. Though her flat in our house wasn’t that big, we found lots of stuff. Lots. Imagine you buy everything twice because the first one could break, or that you always have lots of food in the storage room because you have seen two world wars, the huge inflation of 1923 and four currencies in your life. She knew well what “bad times” can really mean.

Though I’m sad (I have lost the person that I always went for dinner to whenever I was home, every evening) it was also kind of fun to go through clothes from the 60es that are trendy again nowadays. It was interesting to find old stuff like handwritten cookbooks written in Sütterlin or some personal documents from a long time ago. You really dive into the life of another person.

Still, going through all this felt weird as I care about privacy but went through all the belongings of another person. On the other hand there’s no other option anyway – You cannot simply put the complete flat into a big bag and throw it away.

I am very proud that both my grandmothers passed away at home, in the environment that they had lived in for decades, in their beds, while sleeping, most likely without pain, and that my family took care of them in the last months, sometimes to an extend that is hard to imagine (like getting up 13 times per night). I wonder if I can also be that strong and caring once my parents might need some help in the future, nor do I know if I will live nearby. Our time makes it way easier to leave the village that you grew up in and offers you more opportunities, but for example this also destroys the traditional family advantages like grandparents taking care of their grandchildren from time to time so the parents have some time for themselves.

My sincere and deepest respect to those who care about family.

“Compassion, loving, brotherhood, loyalty /
This is friendship and all its meaning is worth to me /
Patience, kindness, intensity, all about /
Never turn your back on your friends and family.”

(Ignite: “Call on my brothers”)

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5 Responses to The life of others

  1. S. says:

    Schöne Worte! Und schöne Erinnerungen…

  2. Sankar says:

    Excellent post. My grandmother is currently 80+ years old and is suffering. My parents are taking care of her sincerely. Because of my job requirements I have to stay far away from my hometown (and feeling bad about it) Your post made me sentimental. Well-written post.

  3. stormy says:

    Sorry to hear about your loss. Sounds like you had two awesome grandmothers.

    (By the way, I too had one grandmother who saved nothing and had very few belongings and another grandmother who had rooms full of things “just in case”.)

  4. anon says:

    Ah, Grandparents… You made me stop and think, nice post.

  5. arpia49 says:

    Always beautiful read that kind of things, it doesn’t matter that I don’t know you.

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