Friday 5 April 2024

Easter Week

In Germany, Good Friday and Easter Monday are holidays, giving the majority of working people a nice long weekend. It doesn't matter so much to me that it was shortened by an hour due to the entirely superfluous changing of the clocks to summertime - the only personal advantage I can see is that it pushes sunset back to around 8:00 pm, giving me the opportunity of long walks after work.

As mentioned in my next-to-last post, we had arrived at O.K.'s on Sunday early afternoon. We both had Monday (25 March) off for his father's funeral which was scheduled for 2:00 pm. It was a strange sort of day with the beautiful sunshine not at all matching our mood - I remember it was also sunny (and unseasonably warm) at my Dad's funeral in November 2022.

The chapel at the village cemetery was packed - H.K. had married a local girl, moved to the village as a young man, started a family and was involved in the village band for decades. The speaker was a young woman who did really well, with only one little mishap when she recounted H.'s life and dated his wedding just one year after his birth (instead of 21 years). The music was moving and well chosen by the family. I felt unable to sing and merely read silently along with the lyrics.

We then stood in the sun by the grave where O.K.'s middle sister was put to rest 9 years ago, watching an offical lowering H.'s urn into the prepared hole in the ground. Handfuls of rose petals followed, then the five of us (O.K. and his Mum, his sister and her husband, and myself) quietly left and walked the short distance from the cemetery to the house.

It was so warm that we were able to sit out on the patio for coffee and cake. When the wind rose, we went inside where we sat and talked until it was time to drive the short distance to a nearby village where we had booked a table for dinner. The food was good and the service friendly; we managed the odd laugh but of course you can imagine that we weren't exactly partying. It was just good to be together.

Back home, we were so exhausted we could hardly keep our eyes open, and I was in bed just after 9:00.

Tuesday (26 March) saw me taking the trains I usually take on Monday mornings to get home. It was very cold at first, but with the sun the day warmed up to 18C/64F in the afternoon. With the aftermath of H.'s recent death and funeral, I found it hard to concentrate on work and admittedly only did what I deemed absolutely necessary; as early as 4:00 pm, I went into town to buy Easter chocolates for the family. A 2 hour walk on the fields helped to clear my head and restore my equilibrium.

The weather was completely different on Wednesday (27 March): Cold, wet, windy, nasty. The local trains I took to the office and back were overcrowded, some having been canceled, and everything was quite chaotic with unclear announcements (or none at all) as to changes of platforms and so on. Otherwise, a totally uneventful day, but quite productive work-wise.

It was even colder on Thursday (28 March): Only 2C/35F in the morning, not much above freezing. Good job I didn't need to hang around at train stations but worked from home.

Lunch break was very pleasantly spent at the house of a friend from my volunteer group; we exchange books every now and then (she lends me the Richard Osman novels I so enjoy), and never run out of topics to talk about. Andrea is a kind-hearted, highly intelligent, witty woman and excellent company.

The Thursday before Easter is called Gr√ľndonnerstag (literally "green Thursday") in German, and in our area, it is traditional to make and eat Maultaschen. You can read about them in English on wikipedia. Of course, nobody makes them as good as my Mum, and our family tradition is to gather for a meal of Maultaschen and spuds salad (you can find my parents' recipe on my blog) that day. This year, my sister was away to visit our cousins in France (their mother, our aunt, had died recently), and so it was my Mum, her friend R and R's brother as well as me at the table. As expected, the food was great and the company good.

I was glad not having to work on Friday (29 March). It was warmer again at 16C/60F but very unsettled, with almost hourly changes from sun to rain to sun and back to rain again. Because of that, I only dared a short walk of about an hour. 

Just after 5:00 pm, I walked into town where my Mum, friend R and I attended a church concert: The "Lukas Passion" by Georg Philip Telemann, first performed in 1744. Passions are concerts, usually with a choir and small orchestra, based on the Bible's description of the events around Jesus' death. Of course most people are familiar with Bach's passions; you can read about them on wikipedia, if you are interested. Telemann's one based on Luke's rendition of the story is little known and rarely performed.

Our city church has a very good choir, and the performance was made even better by the three guest solists (Soprano, Tenor and Bass). The instruments were as close to the original as possible, and virtuously played.

I was not the only one to be moved to tears more than once during the concert. The ticket was a wonderful gift from my Mum.

Saturday (30 March) saw me on three different but all equally overcrowded trains to Offenburg, spending good part of the trip standing. But I arrived with only a short delay around lunch time, perfect for eating the Maultaschen my Mum had given me on Thursday. 

After a brief rest, O.K. and I spent much of the afternoon in the kitchen making a large pot of goulash.

Easter Sunday (31 March) was what we had made the goulash for: We hosted the family meal on what was a beautiful sunny and mild day. It still takes some getting used to there now being five instead of six of us at the table, just like it still feels odd when there are just my Mum, my sister and I, and no Dad.

After the meal, we walked to the cemetery together and looked at the beautiful flowers and wreaths on H.'s and M.'s grave. Back at the cottage, we had coffee and cake together before our guests went home.

O.K. and I were over at his Mum's later in the evening, reading through all the cards and letters people had sent after learning about H.'s death.

It was a strange week, with only three working days and yet I felt utterly shattered at its end. There were wonderful moments, such as at the concert, but also great sadness. Life has a way to be VERY intense at times, doesn't it.

10 comments:

  1. Such a sad time for you all. I hope that there will be no more losses for you and O.K. and your families in the near future and that only happiness is on the horizon for you in the next few years.

    Take care. xx

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    1. Thank you, Jennifer. Normally, I am pretty resilient; it was just all a bit much.

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  2. I can well imagine that week being quite exhausting even if only three working days. There's so much more to funerals than just the actual ceremony... ♥

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    1. Thank you, Monica. The last quarter of 2022 was worse, but this first quarter of 2024 is not far behind.

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  3. Oh bless you, my friend. It is hardly surprising that you were so worn out after all that you have gone through. I would have loved to have gone to that Lukas Passion with you, just as you say, I have never heard of it. Hope your weather has warmed up more and more and that the sun shines nicely for you on your lovely walks.

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    1. Thank you, Kay. I just want life to go back to normal…

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  4. So sorry…Brenda

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  5. The empty chair at the table really resonates with me - missing my husband , who died last year on a Saturday - my least favourite day of the week now
    Siobhan x

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    1. The empty chair is a daily reminder, but of course we don‘t actually need a reminder, do we - we won‘t forget our loved ones anyway.

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