Friday, 12 December 2014

Fare Well, Spare Mom (or A funeral on Day IV)

Again I am wide awake at 4 am.  Breakfast is not until 7 am.  My room is cold but at least I am allowed to light a fire by way of smoking ;-)

Temperatures have been creeping up to 8 Celsius since the snow in Frankfurt but just like in Vancouver, that entails rain.

I use my time before breakfast to buy my Thalys ticket for Tuesday. I had planned to take that train next Monday, but there seems be a semi-general strike going on in Belgium, which has the effect of causing cancellations of international trains passing through that country.

When I sit down for breakfast at 7 am my ear catches the traffic report playing on the radio.  10 km standstill on this Autobahn, 5 km on this other Autobahn. Gridlock here and barely moving traffic there.  And all that at 7 am. Those car commercials on TV always seem to promise hot friends, unlimited freedom of mobility as well as happy faces and families.  But the reality is so vastly different and no-one seems to notice.

OK, Driving a VW in storm-drenched San Francisco might actually live up to the fantasy today.

I take a quick walk along the river at 8:30 am and it is still darkish out there.
I am reminded that the winter solstice is approaching and with it the shortest day of the year.

... and lead us not into temptation ... ;-)

colours just a touch too garish?

I am changing hotels today and not wanting to carry much around with me, I leave the bicycle at the old hotel and deposit my luggage at the new hotel

The funeral takes place in the Eifel region, a one hour car drive from Cologne, in a Rest Forest.  A biodegradable urn is interred next to a tree in wild forest. The temperature here is probably not more than 3 degrees and the crowns of the high trees emit a howl in response to the wind gusts.  I get a lift here by lovely and hot (blush) Tatjana, the sister-in-law of my spare mom's son, who as I learn during the drive was in my graduation year of my high school. Small world!

Right at the beginning of the funeral I put my foot in my mouth by greeting Jan, Regine's son, who I had not seen in ~35 years, with the words 

"Jan, how's it going?".  

Tactful visitor from Canada, indeed.

Afterwards everyone heads to my spare mom's place, for coffee and cake.  I had dreaded entering her apartment without her being there, but even though all the furniture and belongings are the same, it already doesn't feel like her place any more.  
Rusted sun on Regine's balcony.  Shine no more.
Klaus and his husband Toni, who was a very very close friend to my spare mom, give me a lift back to my hotel.

I can instantly see what attracted Spare Mom to Toni and by being around him it almost feels as if my spare mom's wit, gentleness, and care for others was still alive in his body language and speech patterns. 

I realize that I haven't had a decent and proper meal since I have arrived in Germany (Chocolate, pizza, and cheese or cold-cut-laden buns for breakfast don't count) and head to Mai Thai just around the corner.  One bite of their seafood curry pot (3 pepper symbols on the menu and this pot is PACKED with seafood!) and I forget that it's cold outside.

Then it's back to the hotel and the elderly female receptionist who locks the outside doors as soon as it gets dark (5 pm) and who will 'try' to assist me to print out my train ticket for tomorrow.

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