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  • Lilo was my grandmother. She was born in Freiburg, and in her early 20s left Germany, fleeing the Nazis and arranging for her parents to escape shortly afterwards. That was when she met my grandad, a family friend who met her at the train station when she arrived in England.

    She was softly spoken. And softly mannered. A hint of German inflection remained in her voice until she died. She ate almost nothing but apple strudel and cheese, remaining so thin and light that you sometimes feared her feet would not remain flat on the floor.

    She loved the mountains, living in her beloved Geneva so she was surrounded by them always. When we visited they would take us to walk in the Saleve, packing hard boiled eggs and comte cheese for lunch. Tomatoes would be sliced with a penknife and distributed evenly amongst the hungry souls.

    In this photo she is a young, happy and beautiful woman who lived only as a shadow in the grandma I knew. A certain joie de vivre returned in her 90s, when her mind started to fray and she could return to enjoying life's simplicity without those endless worries.

    At her funeral I wept for having lost her, and for fear that I never really knew what lay beneath. For the conversations we might have had but never did. For her troubles and her sadness.
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