Today my family and I said goodbye to my dear grandpa Helmut. As a child I spent most of my holidays with him and Grandma on their farm. Even though we saw each other seldom later, I had a deep connection to him as an adult.
Whenever I visited him there were times, when we sat silently side by side. Then he started talking about his childhood or about the war. Then we were silent again for a long time. This silence was as precious to me as his memories.
You can’t summarize a life of almost 92 years in a few words. What makes a man become the person he is?
Many life experiences of my Grandpa are incredibly terrible and sad, most of all the war. His brother was killed at the Eastern front and his family were refugees from Silesia. He himself had to fight at both, the Eastern and the Western front.
Once he said to me: “Mischa (he always called me like that), during the war I had a few dreams. I wanted to become at least 40 years old, finish my apprenticeship as a blacksmith, get married and have two kids. I made it!” And he smiled.
He was a blacksmith. Later a professional gardener. He could make everything blossom.
Many life experiences of my Grandpa were beautiful and enriching. Those things were much stronger in him than all the negativity he had experienced. I distinctly remember how much he was in love with my grandma (and she with him). Always flowers. Always kisses. Quirky jokes that only they could understand. They were married for 57 years until she died in 2003.
He had to wait a long time for his own death, in the end, he even had to bury his son, my dad, who passed last September.
My grandpa was a man of few words. One day, in March, he surprised me. He looked at his garden and suddenly quoted a spring poem by a famous German poet. Then he said: “This is one of the few poems I learned at school. The Nazis weren’t into poetry that much. It touches the soul too much – and they wanted you to be HARD! Unbreakable! What a bunch of idiots!”
This is the poem. And now: rest in peace, my dear dear Grandpa!
It’s Him (by Eduard Moerike)
Spring has its blue ribbon
Fluttering through the winds
Sweet, well-known scents
Touch lightly and forbodingly the country.
The violets are already dreaming
Willing to come soon.
– Listen, the faint sound of a harp from afar!
Spring, yes it’s you!
It’s you I heard!