The end of August always makes me feel nostalgic. Not only does
the month signal the coming end of summer, it also is the month
in which I had to say good-bye to my mother. Like now I was
writing to get the September issue of Echo Germanica to the
printer and preparing to fly to Germany to celebrate her 80th
Birthday, when I had that devastating phone call telling me that
my mother had died.
I had no time to grieve. All preparations for her funeral had to
happen instantly over the phone. How I finished the paper and
packed a suitcase I have no recollection of. I arrived
exhausted, fell fully dressed asleep on the couch and had to get
to the cemetery at dawn with the help of her in home nurse.
I still grieve around the time of her birthday, the 27th
of August or one day before Goethe’s Birthday, as she used to
say. Goethe, her favorite source of quotes for any situation in
life; and Tagore, the Indian poet and philosopher, the latter
being a favorite with many of her contemporaries like Dr.
Goegginger for instance.
After I had dissolved her household and come back to Canada I
started to write a diary in letterform to my mother. I have long
since stopped doing that, but I still think about her and miss
her terribly, especially when things in life are not so rosy.
When I stand over the sink in the kitchen I look out the window
and talk to her in my head. She is my confidante who I can tell
everything and anything to, even after all these years…Is it 20
years…already…or longer? I still grow Gladiolas and Marguerites,
her favorite flowers, in the garden in her memory. They just saw
the best of their summer and were magnificent his year.
I am thinking of all the people our community is losing each
year. The number is growing annually. There are few things
harder than losing a spouse, a parent or a child. Yet we carry
on, keep busy, and find meaning in life in many different ways.
Sometimes we we find satisfaction in doing something helpful to
others, such as helping a neighbour in need, or volunteering in
a club or other organisation. And with that we learn that help
has to be needed and wanted first so it can be given freely and
accepted gratefully. The offer of help cannot be made with a
demand of something, as in: “I will help you if…”. The helper
does not get to dictate anything. It has to be what is needed
and wanted on the receiving end, not the other way around.
While we are speaking about help I would like to see German
organisations of all descriptions help each other more. As we
are shrinking in numbers we rely on supporting each other’s
efforts to keep the culture going. And I would remind everyone
that even though the largest and perhaps most important factor
and carrier of a culture is its language, it is by far not the
only one, especially if it is being shared with other cultures.
Next in line for a culture exchange is of course Octoberfest,
always celebrated in Germany in September, because the weather
is more reliable for a largely outdoorsy event. Wherever you
celebrate, and whenever, we wish you a merry good time with a
traditional piece of German culture.
Until next time