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I know you will enjoy these short ‘true’ stories. As the title of the book also makes a terrific gift I wish you fun with it.
Forget Me Not – A Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts and Memories
Authored by Giselle Roeder
A thousand ‘Forget-me-nots’ have lined my path. From adoption, babies, cancer, dating, depression, dogs, earthquake, escape, grandmas, kayaking, love, Olympics, politics, from superstition, war to weeping angels and many surprises in-between – these stories are part of me and part of the people who touched my life. During the time we spent together – sometimes only days or hours – we shared our experiences and memories. I remember them all, some with laughter and affection, others with sadness, but they live on in my heart. Wander a mile or two with me along the winding path of life, and let me share my stories.
Maybe it’s not my place to tell it. But who else can tell it? The two people involved cannot tell it and the others old enough to know the story have died and the younger ones don’t really remember the way it was. The story is about my third sister, Ingrid, who was such an easy going baby and child of whom people said: “Yes, later children are much easier.” I was six years old when Ingrid was born and had decided right then and there that I would only have “later children”. Our mother always admonished the others of us: “Look at Ingrid! She is never ever sick! And you come up with something all the time.”
We were four girls, each one born with our father’s hope to have a boy. It wasn’t meant to be. After the war he stated “I am so glad for my girls. At least they won’t be cannon fodder in the next war.” I, the oldest and the third, Ingrid, had Mother’s hazel greenish eyes and the second, Christel, and the fourth, Edith, were born with our father’s deep blue eyes. There also was a deep connection within the two pairs. That’s why I know Ingrid’s story. We were very much alike in our looks, our likes, our thinking and our love of books.
It was at my nineteenth birthday party with twenty of my canoe club friends plus our family. We were having fun, cooking pancakes on my new camping stove, flipping them over in the air, and a lot of laughter caused by some homemade wine. Late in the evening I started to “read palms”, telling fortunes and Ingrid was the last one who asked: “Can you read mine too?” Naturally I took a look and without thinking told her “For a start, you won’t have a long life. Your lifeline is very short…” She was only thirteen at the time. I shut up, shocked by my insensitivity. I could not shake a weird sense of premonition.
“Will I still marry before I die?” I knew what I saw but told her little white lies. At least I saw it that way. After all, this was just fun, I really didn’t know much about the “science” of telling fortunes. It wasn’t much later when the party broke up.
Ingrid was fifteen when my parents told me that she was seeing Benno, a boy of whom they did not approve. Benno was a year or two older than Ingrid but he was into drinking and always into fist fights with other boys. His parents could not handle him but he loved his grandma who lived next door to us. He often came to stay with her. I asked Ingrid “Why Benno, there are so many more nice boys around?” but she said “He needs me. With me he is nice and he talks and he wouldn’t drink. Nobody else understands him. I see no reason why I should not see him. We are good friends.”
In the summer next year she was sent to a children’s camp as a “sport teacher’s assistant.” Ingrid was an athlete; her fortè was swimming and diving. After about a week she was sent home because of terrible pain in her right shoulder. She could not even lift her arm to comb her hair. She was told by the family doctor not to train, not to swim, rest the arm and in general not to overdue anything. The pain did not go away, it got worse and at the end of August Dad took her to a private doctor. After a thorough examination his diagnosis was a shock: youth sarcoma. He told my father to immediately take her to the Charitè in Berlin, a special famous hospital. Within three days her whole arm was amputated. More tests revealed that the cancer had already gone into the shoulder blade and collarbone. She refused to have those amputated as well. Her statement was “I am already crippled enough; no boy will ever love me and I know I have to die anyway.” Six weeks later she returned home. Aunt Irene, a former army nurse came daily to renew the bandages and make sure she had enough painkiller pills. Ingrid refused morphine. “I want to die with my mind intact. I don’t want to be a vegetable.”
Benno had given up drinking and my parents allowed him to make regular visits. In early December Ingrid’s cancer had grown out of the shoulder cavity as if a new arm was growing up to the elbow. The pain grew worse and she had to go into the local hospital. When Christmas was just a week away my parents asked her if she had a special wish. By this time I already lived in the west of Germany and kept sending items they could not get in East Germany: Chocolate, oranges, lemons; my parents would send a telegram with what Ingrid would like to have. I cried a lot during those weeks and once almost caused an accident with a bus and a car because I biked right into them. I couldn’t see for tears… Ingrid had only one Christmas wish: To come home, lie in her own bed to die. The doctors warned my parents, advised against it because it would be the hardest thing they ever did in their lives, they might not be able to stand it. They were adamant and wanted to grant Ingrid’s wish. They did.
Benno gave her a beautifully wrapped present, a long fancy night gown. It made her happy and sad at the same time. He told her he would wait for her and marry her when she got well, it didn’t matter that she only had one arm, he still had two and they would manage. My parents were upset about the fancy night gown Benno had given her, thought it inappropriate but there was nothing they could do about it. Ingrid had several good days during which she read a book I had sent her. I don’t remember the title. I had read it as well; it was something about five lives we each have of which the last one was about the afterlife. I had been impressed by its sensual spirituality. Mother wrote “Ingrid told me it gave her hope and she is not afraid of dying anymore.”
During January her pain was so bad that Aunt Irene, when injecting her pain medication mixed in a little morphine without telling Ingrid. It helped to ease her plight a bit without clouding her mind; yet sadly, the cancer had taken over her whole body.
On February 5th her fight with this horrible cancer, the same as one of the Kennedy boys had, was over. She died and was buried dressed in the night gown Benno had given her. He was totally devastated, started drinking heavily and three weeks after her funeral hanged himself.
August 4th is her birthday. She loved gladiolas. I always buy a bunch and think of her. There is no grave I can take them to – they are on my coffee table. She would be seventy-five this year but I cannot imagine her as an old woman. She is forever the young seventeen year old girl.
November was CANCER month:
Is there any family who is not affected by this terrible disease? A number of prominent people have made it possible to talk about it publicly, – the facts, the treatments, the pain and the loss. I lost a 17-year old sister to a fast growing sarcoma, my father to lung cancer, a cousin to pancreatic cancer, another relative to stomach/colon cancer and my youngest sister is a survivor of breast cancer.
I met Erma Bombeck years ago when we were both on the speakers list at a Health Convention in Texas. I loved her books and her talent to turn the most ordinary happenings of her family life into stories full of humour the world loved. I enjoyed her lecture and laughed heartily, had lunch with her and was amazed that she was actually a serious person. She was just a woman like any other. When I heard of her struggle with cancer I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Erma, – this outwardly happy person who made everybody laugh at her children’s antics, has cancer? No way! And when she died I was grieving for her, her family and all her untold stories.
A friend sent me the following, – and I must say Erma’s message has deep meaning for all of us. Look it over, think about it and how it might apply to your own or a loved one’s life. If you are directly or indirectly affected by the big CA pass it on to your friends.
Pass this on to five women that you want watched over. If you don’t know five women to pass this on to, one will do just fine.
IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER – by Erma Bombeck
(written after she found out she was dying from cancer).
- I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
- I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
- I would have talked less and listened more.
- I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.
- I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
- I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
- I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband..
- I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
- I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.
- I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.
- I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
- Instead of wiling away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle..
- When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, ‘Later… Now go get washed up for dinner.’ There would have been more ‘I love you’s, more ‘I’m sorry’s.’
- But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute; look at it and really see it; live it and never give it back.. STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!
- Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what
Instead, let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us…
If you don’t mind, send this on to all the women you are grateful to have as friends.
Maybe we should all grab that purple hat earlier.
Please send this to five phenomenal women today in celebration of Beautiful Women’s Month.
If you do, something good will happen–you will boost another woman’s self esteem.
2 KEEP IT LIT!
IN MEMORY … . … . ….
These are the colours that represent the different cancers.
All you are asked to do is keep this circulating, even if it’s to one more person, in memory of anyone you know who has been struck by cancer.
A Candle Loses Nothing by Lighting Another Candle.