A lot of people are mesmerized with 11.11.2011. Some women have C-sections so they can have a child that day. To me this day has a special meaning, not just because the numbers line up so nicely, but because my grandmother was born on 11.11.1911.
She is by now on the other side of Facebook and her profile is currently fairly inactive.
- I remember her driving her Beetle wearing her trench coat, a hat and leather gloves. Quite a sight. That’s how she rolled.
- She smoked like a chimney, but of course only “light” cigarettes.
- She introduced me to Nutella. I had the first Nutella croissant at her balcony at the age of 6.
- She was married three times, but only to two different men.
- Her first and second husband shot himself. Her third husband died a day before my dad’s 13th birthday.
- During the war she worked as a nurse in Paris and later in Russia. She also gave birth to my dad in January 1945. Pretty crazy to have a baby when you are surrounded by rubble.
- She was a news junkie and always carried a little radio with her when she walked around in her apartment.
- She always asked what I wanted for lunch. If I shrugged my shoulders she’d say”Ok, we’ll just have cold as with pears”. That was a saying from the Rhineland area where she grew up.
- I heard that my grandpa was in a concentration camp. Somehow she got him out but no one knows the full story.
- She was a lady. But the time you would really hear her curse was when her little oil-powered heater wouldn’t come on because it was clogged with soot.
- Her phone number was 21443. Some things you never forget.
As a teenager I was living with my dad. Grandma had been living alone for decades. Her place was on my way home from school and usually I swung by for lunch.
Then things suddenly changed. My dad couldn’t pay rent. We got kicked out of our apartment. He moved in with his girlfriend and I was presented with one option: how about moving in with your grandmother? I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Most of my stuff went into storage. I went from my teenage room where you could barely see the wall into a room with bare walls and furniture that didn’t exactly match my personal style. I slept in a 40-year old bed that once belonged to my dad. My old apartment is still a legend in my hometown for the parties I threw when my dad was traveling. That wasn’t exactly an option at my new home. She had a tiny 2-bedroom apartment and I could hardly move in my room once I had my huge stereo speakers and all my records moved in there.
I was 17 and she was 72. Nice matchup. We were both used to have it our own ways. There wasn’t much space on 750sqft to escape each other.
She did a wonderful job in adjusting and trying to take care of me. She never made me feel unwelcome. Of course we pushed each others’ buttons and could drive each other nuts. I wasn’t exactly easy to get along with. Which teenager is? Plus these were the 80’s which presented one fashion shock after the other for the older generation. But for most of the time we had a blast. We accepted our differences. I don’t think I ever lost respect for her. I can’t speak for her end :) At least I didn’t turn her hair grey. Others had taken care of that before already.
She had a very dry sense of humor and we laughed a lot. We talked politics and watched the news every day. Eventually I graduated from high school and got my own place. The time with her was priceless. I wasn’t around when she passed away since I was living on the US already. I lucked out by getting to spend time with her when she was still at her best.
So there you have my 11.11.11 story. Who knows she might be trading WWII stories with Andy Rooney right now.