Happy Mother's Day to all women who have born children. Some of you were even fortunate enough to see them grow up.
Two women stand out in my life, my mother and my Aunt Emma.
My mother had one child live beyond birth, me. Before me was Helene who died either in child birth or shortly thereafter. We were both premature, a condition made more difficult because the years were 1938 and 1940. Some of us were more stubborn or willful than others and decided against all odds to stay put on this earth. In my mother's case that would have been me. In my Aunt Emma's case (my mother's sister), one of her children was murdered by the Nazis; she had what we now know as Downs Syndrome. Both women were tough. The kind of outer toughness that let them make it through War, hunger, and pestilence and, then, pick up the pieces and build new lives.
In the early post war years, my mother was a wheeler-dealer, getting us successively better apartments in which to live, not an easy undertaking in a country where there seemed to be more bombed out buildings than inhabitable ones. Mother also had no ethical problems with obtaining a ball for me on the black market for Christmas 1946.
She had it down to a fine art when to walk the 5 miles between the village we lived in and her farmer friends in the neighboring village to garner a fresh egg or some freshly canned meat. When fire wood was needed, she and her neighbor became wood fellers, going into the very cold winter of 1946, 1947, or 1948, the axe apparently slipped off an icy tree trunk into her shin, but the two women and the wood made it home without an ambulance or having to pay a bribe to the local constable. You see it was legal to collect wood off the forest floor, but not to cut down trees.
In 1948, I was allowed to visit my aunt in the far away big city of Hamburg. I don't remember how I got there, for travel in 1948 was not the easiest undertaking, but I do know that my mother did not take me. What I do remember are all the new dresses I had when I got to my aunt. The material came from some of my mother's dresses, remade into the latest 8-year old girls' dresses by a local seamstress. I wonder what she used for money, since we certainly didn't have any. Of course, I also need to report that I tore one of those dresses when we did less than girly things on that visit. But nary a "tsk" from my mother when I came home.
As I became eighteen and up to twenty-two, I always knew where I could find a fashionable wardrobe--in my mother's closet. She abhorred my lack of taste in clothing and was ready to clothe me. Of course, I would never have taken advantage of my mother in that way. *cough, cough, smirk, smirk."
Thank you, Mutti, for also attempting to clean up my pal Seppl, before sending him home to his mother. Seppl had "accidentally" fallen into a mud puddle. Poor Seppl still got a thrashing.
She also rescued me from our local Pastor who was in the habit of administering "Ohrfeigen" (slaps on the side of the face) rather randomly to his confirmation students. When my turn came, I walked out of the class room, went home and my mother took up the matter with the District's supervising Pastor. The following week I was able to take confirmation classes in the "big" city.
At age 18, she gave me my freedom and told me if I wanted to go to England for a year as an au pair, it was alright with her. After all, she had never married again after her divorce in 1948. Unfortunately, I have this inkling that it was my fault she never remarried. I was jealous of every man that ever came to visit her and spoke my mind about it. Sorry for having been so selfish.
Above all thank you for always accepting me for being me, regardless of how difficult that might have been at times.
And thank you to my Aunt Emma for letting me visit every summer vacation, for fattening me up when my camp stay didn't, for having all those Romance novels stashed in the cupboard, so I could read into the night under my bed covers and cry and cry and cry. And above all for having the Bakery deliver, wonderful hard rolls (Broetle) and soft pretzels (Laugepretzle) every morning while I was visiting.
A Blessed Mother's Day to all.