This past week has been a whirlwind. I feel like I only just wrote last week’s blog. It’s Friday now and I have one more day in the store before I head to Germany for three weeks. It feels very strange to think that I won’t be in my store for three weeks. In anticipation of my trip, I’ve had so many memories bubbling up; I thought I’d share some with you today.
At eleven years old, I quite honestly didn’t understand the magnitude that living in Germany for a year would have on my life. I was definitely aware that this was the opportunity of a lifetime — as much as you can at that age, at least. And I was deeply grateful for that opportunity. In the week leading up to it, I remember laying awake at night, giddy with excitement, to the point that I would burst into tears and giggle fits. I had never been on an airplane before; I had never been away from my family before. And before Aunt and Uncle arrived, I had never met them. I had met my grandmothers though: Friederike (Friedchen) and Amalia. They had each been to Canada to visit us on multiple occasions.
Friedchen was a yarn lover. Every year she would send us crocheted dresses for Easter and knitted pullover sweaters for Christmas. There would be delicious little treats scattered throughout the parcel and it was so exciting to watch Mom unwrap it all and figure out what was intended for whom. The contents of the parcels had a particular scent that I associated with Oma.
Isn’t it funny how we can remember scents?
I can remember when my aunt took me to Oma’s house for the first time. We walked through her beautiful flower garden to the door. I remember the peonies and roses most. She opened the door and I breathed in that familiar scent. She stood there with her arms open wide and it was all so much to take in that I burst into tears. I threw my arms around her and although I had never been in her house before, I felt like I was coming home. She had baked a cake, and was shocked to learn that I didn’t drink coffee. She insisted that I try it. She served it in a teal and gold fine china demi-tasse. It felt like a fancy tea party. Man, that coffee was strong! It wasn’t quite as strong as espresso, but just about. I must have made a memorable face, because she and my aunt almost fell off their chairs laughing. When the cake was polished off, she insisted that I sing her a song. I happily complied, and her dachshund, Benny, joined in. I considered it a compliment!
I wanted Oma to show me how to knit, but we didn’t have time.
It was only a long weekend jaunt. She had a number of projects on the go and she showed them to me one by one. As a way of quelling my disappointment that there wasn’t time for her to teach me to knit, she pulled out the patterns she was knitting and had me try to read them. I did my best, but they were terribly confusing. She assured me that one day, I would understand them and be making beautiful things out of yarn. She was right.
Oma loved animals. She had two dogs (a German Shepherd that would not have hesitated to take a grizzly bear down, and Benny, the dachshund) she also had two angora rabbits. The small vegetable garden in her back yard hosted a tiny chicken coop and a number of chickens that happily wandered through the fenced yard and garden behind her house. Her front yard was a beautiful flower garden. When I was there it was warm and breezy and the scents of the flowers would tease my nose every so often. You could hear the insects buzzing and the birds singing. (The first time I heard a cuckoo was on a walk through a beech forest in Germany.) Being at her home gave me a sense of where I had come from. I discovered that I had a lot in common with her. More than I had ever realized.
I found that deeply comforting.
Sadly, Oma has been gone for many, many years. So I won’t be able to sit and knit with her in Germany. But that’s okay. I like to think that she sits with me sometimes when I knit. Perhaps I’m sentimental, but I like to think that. When I feel sad that my children never got to meet her, I have to remind myself that they do get to meet her. When I share my memories of her with them, they get to meet her. That’s pretty wonderful.
There will be so many interesting things to do and see in the three weeks that we are in Germany. The challenge will be to make certain there is enough quiet time in between the activities to ensure that we can really take it all in. I want it to be more than just a big blur of busy. What a gift that I can share this trip with my daughter.
It’s easy to get so caught up in day-to-day tasks and working that we forget why we work so hard.
It’s good to take some time to reminisce and remember — and appreciate. All those experiences built the context through which we now navigate. They built us into who we now are. Sometimes we need to take time to set the business of life aside and remember the path that brought us to today. In doing so, past, present and future exist all together in one moment: now.
I hope you are able to take some time to set the busy stuff aside and just be this summer. Even if it’s only for brief moments here and there.