Goodbye 2017

It is the last day of the year 2017. I am thinking of the 365 days past. I am contemplating what the New Year may bring. I have no crystal ball. Nobody has an answer. If we are a few billion people with a brain on this planet, every single one has different hopes, wishes, and beliefs. I am trying to write a blog that means something, possibly something that touches a nerve in everyone. Everyone? Who am I kidding! I can but try. And try I will.

New Year’s Eve: We celebrate and make a lot of noise. We make New Year’s Resolutions, resolutions that will be broken within the next few weeks or even days because ‘life happens.’ Something always gets into our way to do what we set out to do, want to do or planned to do. We woke up with a thought to write a fantastic blog – someone asked to do something else, and everything changes. The mood, sometimes even the energy is gone. What we really wanted to say changed. The moment, that magic moment, when you felt just right to do this one thing, is gone.

Looking back on 2017, it was a troubled year. Worldwide, politically and for me, even personally. But what is my personal pain compared to the pain of thousands of people fleeing their homes with just the cloth on their back, children starving, soldiers raping helpless women, beheading or killing well-meaning men? The worst is that all of this is done in the name of religion. Did anybody choose to born a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew? Or belonging to any of the many other denominations? How many Gods are there? I always thought there was but ONE, and he is a loving God, not one who spews hate and fire at one particular group that tries to kill another group. Who’s side is HE one when soldiers in war pray for victory? I’m reminded of a little story:

A zebra goes to see God. He asks ‘Lord, am I white with black stripes or am I black with white stripes?’

God looks at the zebra and says: ‘That depends entirely on how you see yourself.’

I like to see it not just depending on color but ‘how we see ourselves.’ Has HE given humanity ‘free choice’? A choice to do what is right? HE doesn’t get involved in humanity’s foolishness. Someone on Facebook asked ‘How can God let this happen?’ and another answered that HE may have turned his back on us because we don’t allow HIS name in schools, and we try to banish him from our lives. It’s troublesome to think about all this. And, maybe it is better not even to write about it. I stepped into a wasp’s nest once when I wrote an article for a newspaper questioning different parts of the bible and mentioned Emmanuel Kant’s Philosophy. It was also a New Year’s write-up, and boy, did I touch many nerves! The Newspaper had a hay-day with all the pro- and contra letters for weeks!

What do I look back to, personally? Problems with my health, physical problems that affected me mentally. I got depressed but tried hard to pretend all was alright. I had a terrible time getting to work on my sequel to my memoir “We Don’t Talk About That.” In that book, I was honest and told how it was, and I couldn’t find a way to tell what happened to me and my life after those first thirty years. I thought of all the things I still had to do, wanted to do and never got around to do. I went through all my files, sorted, destroyed and found papers I didn’t want to go into the wastebasket after I’m gone. I found poems I had written over many years, mostly funny ones, many with double meanings, my goodness, actually a history of human life during the years starting around 1960! Reading these gave me hope and smiles back, and a will to do something with them. My little book “Ein Mensch von Gestern – Heute” was born. It’s in my first language, German, but there are still a lot of people who do speak it. The title means “A Human from Yesterday – Today.” The story of how we people from yesterday cope with life as it has changed since yesteryear. Hahaha, and now we are back to today, the last day of 2017.

Did I have moments when I thought of stopping the time from flying? Yes, there were some. But how do you stop time? With a stopwatch? Heh, buddy, it doesn’t work that way.  Every breath you take is part of a second that moves time forward. Did you ever read Goethe’s ‘Faust’? The first two lines inspired me this morning to write about it. Here is part of Dr. Faustus’ conversation with Mephisto about time:

“If to the moment, I shall ever say
‘Oh, linger on, thou art so fair!’
Then may you fetters on me lay.
Then I will perish, then and there!
Then may the death-bell toll recalling,
Then from your service you are free;
The clock may stop, the pointer falling,
And time itself be past for me!”

The answer of the devil, Mephisto, was a warning. Faustus should not be hasty with his wish, but if so, he wanted it in writing, signed with blood. Maybe here we find a base for what we often say nowadays: ‘Be careful what you wish for, you may get it!’

       Happy New Year to all of you! I love you, my readers! I love people!
A big hug for all!

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An ‘Otherwordly’ Experience #Dreams #Tears #Spiritual

It was totally dark when I woke up and I had the incredible feeling of floating over my bed. I had heard someone calling “No, don’t go, please no, no, no…” I felt for something solid and was grateful when finally touching my pillow. But it was wet, very wet next to my head. I was flat on my back. I kept lying still and tried to shake the cob webs off my mind. Who had been calling? Why would my pillow be wet? I noticed that my hair on both sides of my face was wet as well and there was moisture in my ears too. I touched my eyes. Yes, – I was crying, the tears just kept running out of my eyes, down my cheeks and it seemed that some flood gate had opened. I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t properly wake up, either. Weirdly, I knew I wasn’t really awake and I also knew I wasn’t really asleep. The dark room around me felt cold and empty. Very empty. Almost hollow. I could touch the hollow in the air above me.

The next I heard was my alarm clock going off. It was 6.30 AM. A bit of grey light shone through the curtains. It took me a while to gather my thoughts. The wet pillow was a puzzle. I figured I must have had a bad dream and therefore cried. Walking to the bathroom I felt lightheaded and in a weird way very somber. Not singing or humming as I sometimes did. I had my shower, dried myself, put my house coat on and padded back to the bedroom. I dressed without thinking, choose everything black. Black pantyhose, black dress with a high collar, buttoned half way down the front with small round shiny black buttons, black pumps. When I was back in the bathroom I stared into the mirror: Why did I dress in black? I opened a drawer and pulled out my opera length large white baroque pearls and hung them around my neck. I shook my head to the image I saw in front of me and took them off again. I noticed that I was very pale and had large dark circles under my eyes.

Eventually I set off to drive to my office. For no reason at all I felt thankful that nobody had taken my parking spot. For a while I sat in my car and prayed that my secretary would not notice my eyes, still red from crying. I still had that somber feeling but as I entered through the backdoor I pasted a smile on my face when I called out “Good Morning” and hoped it sounded cheerful enough. June, my secretary was at her desk, gave me a rather serious look and said somewhat timidly “Good Morning, Giselle”. What’s with her, I thought as I walked past her and into my office. I placed my coat on the hook behind my door which was always open. I wanted to be available and approachable for all my “girls”, – I had twelve estheticians working for me. Behind my chair was a one-way window which allowed me to look out into the shop but nobody could look in. I sat down at my Jacobean desk in my Jacobean chair, folded my hands in my lap and did absolutely nothing. I didn’t see anything either. I was numb.

After maybe ten minutes June called “Giselle, telephone for you.” I picked it up and said my name.

“Hi, Giselle, it’s Chris. I am afraid I have bad news for you.”

“Yes, I know, my father died.”

“Oh, you know already”.

“Chris, – no I don’t, – what did you just say? How do you know?”

“We received a telegram this morning before the shop opened since we were the only Roeders in the telephone book close to your shop.”

My two most favorite men

Grandpa Erich and Eric

I was stunned. I hung up the phone and just sat there, my heart racing and my mind reeling. My hands were shaking and I couldn’t make them stop. Now I slowly started to understand my tears during the night, my somber mood, my disconnection with reality. My father had written a letter on February16, complaining that he didn’t feel good, that not even the cigars tasted good anymore. Since then I had not heard from home. Neither my mother nor my youngest sister had written to let me know that he was in a bad way. And today was April 7, 1983, time enough to let me know, to give me a chance to fly home and see him again before it was too late. How good is a funeral of one you love so much when you cannot be there? Oceans were between us. They lived in East Germany, had tried to escape but father had a kidney attack on the way to the train station and ended up in hospital. That was on the 13th of August 1961. Two days later the Berlin Wall was up.

“June, my father died, Chris just told me.” I had left my office and stood in front of her desk.

“I am so very sorry, Giselle, I thought you knew.”

“No, June, I did not know. It just hit me the moment Chris said it.”

“But then, Giselle why did you dress like that?”

“I have no idea, June. I wasn’t really aware of it. I just felt kind of somber this morning. It was as if I was in a trance. I thought I must have had a bad nightmare because I had cried so much my pillow was wet…”

I walked away from her towards the open part of the shop, the elegant waiting room with the manicure tables all around the huge glass windows. I stopped at every table to greet my customers and stood a bit longer at my daughter Ingrid’s table. She lived with Chris. Her head was bent way down – she clearly did not want to face me.

“Ingrid, Grandpa has died.”

She never looked up from her work. “Yes I know. You did too, didn’t you?”

“I had no idea. Chris just phoned me a few minutes ago.”

“But then, why did you dress like that?”

My back prickled, the hair at my neck was standing up as the full force of what happened last night hit me. My father had come to say “Good Bye” and the voice calling “No, don’t go, please, no, no, no…” must have been my own.