Arriving in Stralsund on Saturday, 10th November 2012, around lunchtime.
As I probably mentioned in one of my earlier posts the family of my father was a rather large family. My father had five siblings! His younger sister Elisabeth was about the same age as my mother. My mother and father had three children, Elisabeth and her husband Alfred had also three children. We children were similar in age. I was born in 1934, our cousin Horst six months later in 1935; my brother Bodo was born in 1938 and our cousin Karin one year later in 1939; my brother Peter Uwe was born in 1941 and our cousin Udo one year later in 1942.
This means Cousin Udo is the one who turned 70 in September 2012. Peter Uwe and his wife Astrid had told me they were going to drive to the Stuttgart area in time to be there for Udo’s birthday celebrations. And they invited me to come along with them. It would give me a chance to meet up with a lot of our grandfather’s descendants, who would all come to celebrate Udo’s birthday. This was the time when our cousin Renate (our mother’s niece) had just had a severe stroke and it looked bad. Renate’s daughter sent me emails and kept me up-to-date about Renate’s condition. I had the feeling, in case that Renate should die, I should aim at going to her funeral rather than travelling with Peter Uwe and Astrid all the way to Stuttgart. Then I did get the news that Renate had died in a hospital in Munich. She was to be cremated in Munich a few days later when there was to be an urn-burial near where she had lived.
I blogged about it how Peter and I travelled by train to Munich. This meant I could not travel with Peter Uwe and Astrid. They were not very happy about this, because they had already booked accommodation for the three of us. Anyhow, what has all this to do with Saturday, the 10th November 2012? Well, at the time we were still staying with Peter Uwe and Astrid att their house in Mecklenburg/Vorpommern. On this Saturday they suggested we could all travel to Stralsund to meet Uwe, our cousin’s son, as well as his family.
Of course Astrid and Peter Uwe had met the whole family at Udo’s birthday party. Uwe has a wife (I forgot her name now) and four lovely children. To have as many as four children is nowadays rather unusual for a German family in Germany. But anyhow we met them all at their family home in Stralsund. I was very impressed what a lovely well organised family they were. We arrived at lunchtime and they invited us for lunch. Astrid had baked an apple-cake and had mentioned on the phone that she would bring it along. On the way to Stralsund we stopped at a super-market to buy a few sweets for the children and flowers for the lady of the house. Some of the children helped to set the table. They had a huge table in a huge living-room area. Their apartment had very high ceilings and I think about five bedrooms. They lived in a building which was maybe one hundred years old but wonderfully restored and looked as good as new.
The apple-cake was served as a desert with coffee. Uwe had an appointment after lunch and had to rush off. But during lunch we had a really good conversation with the whole family. All the children participated in the conversation too, which impressed me very much. The way the conversation went reminded me a bit about my grandfather in Lodz. I found Uwe was as good a talker as Grandfather had been. And he would draw everyone into the conversation as well. I really enjoyed observing this family and how they related to each other. Alas, we could stay with them only for a very short time. We pointed out that we were about to explore Stralsund a little bit. They gave us good advice, where to go and what would be of interest to see.
Stralsund is situated at the Baltic Sea. Peter took some harbour pictures and some pictures of the beautifully restored buildings in the midst of town. I took some pictures too, but they got lost when my computer crashed. Nobody thought of taking any photos of this lovely family we had been visiting. This I regret very much. But my pictures got lost anyway. There are quite a few pictures that Peter took and I am going to publish them in my next blog.
David’s brother let Peter know that David is in hospital. We went to see him there two weeks ago on Sunday. We traveled by train to Westmead station. From there we walked to Westmead Hospital. We found David in good spirits. He looked much healthier than we had seen him before. We talked for about an hour. He called us ‘Papa’ and ‘Mama’. He showed us his leg where it had been amputated. He said he was going to get physio so he would be able to walk better. In a few weeks he was to go back home.
In the meantime the brother sent another message that David was to be sent to a nursing home. So the villa where Gaby and David had lived for the past twenty-three years had to be vacated. We were asked would we perhaps want anything out of the villa that had belonged to Gaby? We said, we would go up to the place on a day when David’s family was to be there too.
We didn’t take any photos inside the hospital. But David was in a pleasant ward, I think it was on the seventh floor. He had a room all to himself! He was listening to his radio which a neighbor had brought in for him. He had just had his lunch and someone came in to pick up his lunch-tray. He said he didn’t smoke any more and this was going to save him a lot of money. We were very happy David felt so much better after having had good medical care in hospital for several weeks.
All went well. Now we have to wait for just a few weeks before we’ll be sent the finished disks. Not that I’m looking forward to listening to my recorded voice! Thanks to all the encouragement I have been given by Frances, I survived the interviews. But I’m glad it’s over now. Talking to Frances was great. I very much liked our conversations. It was just a bit difficult at times knowing what I said was being recorded. Still it was overall a good, enjoyable experience. Frances always tried to put me at ease before the recordings and helped me along by asking relevant questions.
I was able to go to the pool yesterday. The water was wonderful. Did do me a lot of good. I hope I can soon go there again. I was told, tomorrow, Friday, another school carnival will be going on. However for next week no further carnivals are scheduled.
A balmy morning during an Australian summer. I hadn’t been to Dapto pool for quite some time. I thought today was the day. I remembered the school swimming carnival must have been on last week. I could then definitely hear voices from the announcements on the loudspeakers, which would mean the school swimming carnival was on. I knew from experience when this was on at the beginning of each year there was no chance at all to do any swimming in one of the lanes. All the lanes would be preserved for school children. So far so good. The school carnival was over, or was it? I was to find out soon enough.
I had planned to walk the short distance to the pool. However I did get delayed. Couldn’t find my swimmers. Took me ages to find them. Had absolutely no idea where on earth they ended up after my last swim a long, long time ago. Anyhow when I finally was dressed in my swimmers ready to walk to the pool, the sun had been out for a while already. The temperature was approaching 27 C (80 F). Peter suggested he was to drive me to the pool, pointing out it was already a bit too hot for me to be walking all the way.
Gee, I was very relieved Peter had offered to drive me. When we arrived at the swimming center the parking lot was packed full. So many cars on a weekday morning! This could only mean there was another swimming competition on. I took my camera out of the car and went to check. The swimming competition seemed to be well on its way. I took a few pictures and then when straight away back home with Peter who had been waiting for me.
I passed the outside wall of the building on the way to the entrance and noticed some beautiful paintings on the wall which I had not seen before. (This showed to me for how long I had not been this way!) So I took the opportunity to shoot some pictures.
The kiosk near the entrance was in business already.
A quick glance at the large pool and I was gone.
The past week Peter and I have been busy with the telling of our lives’ story. We had a very lovely visitor recording everything for the Oral History section of the library at Canberra. It takes a few weeks before these recordings are accessible. I understand they are going to be preserved for future generations. This whole project is of course extremely exciting for us.
Frances, who’s interviewing us, tells us, we as migrants from Germany, having been through WW II and post war years as children in Germany have experiences to recall which people would be interested to hear about. Also of interest are our experiences in Australia as migrants. In this regard it is of special interest to find out how our lives were shaped by having had a daughter who had been severely disabled by polio.
Neither Peter or I are experienced speakers. Having our voices recorded is something completely new to us. However Frances is very good at encouraging us. She gently guides us into the relevant sections of our lives by asking some questions. Peter and I are always being interviewed separately. Usually we have one hour each in the morning, then a lunch-break, and maybe another hour each in the afternoon.
I found out having to talk for one hour at a time about my life can be rather tiring and sometimes a bit stressful too. But I love doing it especially with such a good interviewer as Frances. By the middle of next week she’s going to be back for the conclusion of the interviews.