Monday, August 9, 2010

Spending Time with my Aunt

My Tante Ursula turned 99 today.
So far it's actually been an okay visit. She's not doing well, as far as her physical health is concerned - and some could argue her mental health - except that she is still in good spirits. She still laughs, she jokes and teases, and I've only heard her complain once about pain. I actually don't think she's in any which is really good. She's tired of lying in bed all the time and today I did some physical stuff with her. She was pretty happy about it.
My uncle on the other hand is a mess. He worries and worries, and he cannot give up on the German rules of living. Everything on the plate must be eaten. One must not get oneself dirty. Cake must be eaten with a fork, not with the fingers! We go round and round (all three of us sometimes) and I'm trying to convince him - that if she can and wants to eat her cake with her fingers - who cares if she gets a few crumbs on her self!? Good Grief! you can clean those up and she still has a little dignity in that she can eat by herself. And the poor guy, we had to argue about how a straw with the flexible end works. He was convinced it was a one-way straw. He tried to explain to me how the folds would only let the liquid go one way. I tried very hard to keep a straight face as I explained that that was only to let the top part of the straw bend, nothing more. I wanted him to turn it around because it would make it easier for my aunt to drink out of a glass. And then with food. Oh brother - he complains that I bring too much, cook too much but then, everything I put on a plate for him - he eats. And yesterday was really sweet. I'd asked on Friday if he would eat Weisse Wurst (this is really really yummy stuff - but if you are in Bavaria you must eat this before noon - and you must eat it with sweet mustard! There. Now you know.) Ya - sure he would eat that. And what should we eat with it? Oh - I don't need any more - I said, Bratkartoffle? (fried potatoes) - oh child, you make too much, it's all too much, I can't eat that much! Well, Sunday I asked again if I should pick up fresh Weisse Wurst on Monday. Yes. And what should we eat with that? Without missing a beat he says, "well, if you make Bratkartoffle, I can eat some too" in a way that made me think - he's been thinking about this a bit. I made Bratkartoffle (fried potatoes) but he had a conniption fit about how many onions were in it. He said, I've never eaten Bratkartoffle with onions. There's always a first time and he ate two plates full. I think he's pretty hungry - he doesn't want to admit it. And I think he's thrilled to get food that's different than what he's been eating day-in-day-out. This makes me so sad - I wish I could convince him to get meals on wheels he would love it. But when you are old and set in your ways.... So I will cook up a storm in the next few days and hopefully that will keep them going a bit longer. If I lived here - I could at least bring them some of what I cooked everyday. But Philadelphia's a helluva commute to Frankfurt.
Time is going by very slowly here. I brought yarn from home to knit a sweater and I'm almost done. I just have to knit one more sleeve and the collar tomorrow. Then I'm allowed to go purchase buttons here. We mostly sit in silence. My aunt talks in her sleep and when she's awake she talks in any language she feels like - German, Spanish or English. My uncle probably also needs a hearing aide now, as he has a hard time understanding her - or deciphering which language we're in at the moment. But things have been mostly peaceful.
The last few days it didn't rain in the morning, so I walked down to the edge of the Saale, the "river" (to me it's more like a creek than a river) that runs through the town, and did some yoga. It's beautiful in the morning (see above). The light here is pretty fantastic. There are a pair of swans with two young ones, and a lot of mallards with all of their little ones too - it seems a bit late for that doesn't it? They are super cute. Doing yoga on the edge of the river in the early morning light is wonderful. It's still a bit cool, there is still dew on the grass, and it's very quiet. All you hear is a bit of the river and the little fish jumping to catch the bugs. Maybe that is helping with a peaceful visit as well? Who knows. But I am noticing - for whatever reason - I'm enjoying this time with them. I'm usually counting the hours. But this time - I found my self not thinking about the time at all, just enjoying the moments. I am glad for this.

1 comment:

Christie said...

Hi Tara,
It's your intrepid intern. Berlin sounded awesome (I always wanted to see Eliasson's work), and I think it's so nice that you got your auntie out of the house. I am sure your visit means the world to them!

Jacques is taking his pill politely in the morning, and all else is well here. I harvested some purple tomatoes today! They were fantastic.