Though I slept fitfully last night, I was jolted up this morning in the dark by a ringing sound. Not the normal ringing sound of my cell phone where each person has their own special ring tone, but the abrupt sound of another kind of phone. By golly, it was the one in my headboard that I have in case I tip over and need 911. They can’t find you from your cell phone easily especially if you have an out-of-state area code like I still do.
My first thought was my neighbors are going to flip being awakened at this hour. I looked at the phone and the number was unavailable. I couldn’t figure out how to answer it or turn it off in the dark. I pushed some button and the next thing I hear is this familiar voice speaking in very loud German. Hallo! Siegrid here! I understood. But my mouth wouldn’t work. Once I turned on a light and headed for the living room so the shouting wouldn’t be heard next door, I answered. Yes, I’m here. It’s me, how are you, all in German, of course.
She thought I forgot my words, but the truth was my mouth was stuck and so was my brain. It was early evening in Germany but early morning here. I haven’t been able to find the German word for Bells Palsy to explain what’s happened to me. I don’t know if they have one. All I managed to get from the conversation was that they were both, she and her sister, still well. As well as can be expected at 89-90. Siegrid has a birthday this month. I will return the call then. They had received my letter and were confirming that it was indeed my new phone number. I was delighted to know they were still among the living.So I will take some pictures and print out a small map to show them where I am.
I want to be clear that these ladies are not relatives. My mother met them on the internet and we visited them in 2001, the last year of mom’s life. She was doing a search for any remaining family that was left behind in East Germany. It was her first opportunity since the internet had become available. The actual relatives dismissed her, with a too little to late attitude, but these fine ladies who had the same last name, were warm and welcoming. They adopted us and we them. Mom was shocked that as the weeks went by during our travels around Germany, that I kept finding more German words I knew. They must have been locked in a trunk in my brain waiting to be needed.
A few years after mom was gone, I took my sister to visit. These pictures are from that visit in 2006. Once again, the more I heard the language, the quicker it came back to me. Now you have to understand, German was my first language. Dad spoke to me in English, I answered in German, understanding both. I attended American based schools starting with kindergarten. Mom believed that you spoke the language of where you were. We rarely heard German in the states and mom never spoke it in public, nor to us in the states. How did my mind keep all those words all these years and why couldn’t I find them at 6:30 on a cold Sunday morning?
The limits of my language means the limits of my world. ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
From my heart to yours,