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  • When she was 74 years old my grandma ran into a car she later claimed to have not seen and went to hospital for many months. I have always wondered if maybe she also suffered from Retinitis Pigmentosa but never knew. After that she was so crippled that she could not live alone anymore. She went to a very pleasant Old Peoples’ Home run by the Lutheran Church and we, my sisters, parents and I, visited her there very often.

    Even though I was just 16 years old then I loved to visit her. I did not mind the old people and the smell of urine. Sometimes I just sat for an hour and held her hand and we both were content.

    After a terrible life with my grandpa and few other experiences with men as far as we know, in old age my grandma found a different kind of love with men. There was Herr Dr. Kiehn, who had been a school director. He had lived for many decades with his wife. When she died his sons put him into the same facility. But before his wife died she had taught him how to embroider. One day he took me to his room and showed me his embroideries. He had all designed them himself and the stitching was exquisite and if I had had my gallery back then I would have exhibited his pieces with immense pleasure. But I was just a teenager. I liked Herr Dr. Kiehn. He would sit in the garden with my grandma and they would be sitting in silence just holding hands, the way she did with me. I liked that. It showed me that there was a different kind of love than just sexual desire which was what most afflicted me at that time.

    My grandma had another friend who was Herr Schwedt. He would go to the stores in town and buy her what she needed, because she could hardly walk anymore. They both loved crossword puzzles and spent hours doing these. Herr Schwedt was a pain in the butt for me, though. He had once been important and told everybody that once and again: he had been a quite famous radio host, he had travelled the world, and he showed me a photograph of himself in a white suit on a trip through Egypt. I did not like Herr Schwedt, his boasting, his "Once I was someone...." and he was my teacher in that I will try hard to never ever do that: tell people that once I was somebody....

    Later I heard that he had sexually assaulted the nurses. I guess he was very depressed, he thought that now he was nobody anymore and very quickly he succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease and died long before my grandma.

    But my grandma did not mind, she did not care about him having been important or that he talked so much about that glorious past, she liked him as she liked Dr. Kiehn. She was just who she was and another´s huge ego did not do anything to her, it did not even bother her. Maybe that is why she was good for Herr Schwedt. She was someone who liked him for who he was, not because he had been important and famous once.
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    Art by Kiki
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