For many, home has been almost like a prison between 2020 and 2022, but for my grandmother Oma Else, it has been since 2015. A stroke shortly before her 90th birthday in December 2015 turned her from a quick-witted woman into a woman who needed care 24/7. In September 2015, a month before her stroke, I was with her at her daughter’s in Mallorca.
I grew up with my grandparents and spent many lunches with them after primary school. Everything had its order. The seating positions at the table were definite, also according to hierarchy. I had to move up a seat if my father or uncle were there. There were special “Sunday dishes” that only my grandmother was allowed to wear.
Decency was generally a top priority. My hand was only allowed to rest on the table up to the ulna, or something like that, with a wink, that’s how I remember it. Oma Else always asked me if I could look away for a moment when she wanted to lick the plate, she grinned at me and I understood what she meant. When you go through war, you must develop a special sense of humour.
Oma Else had a great sense of humour and always had 2 Deutsch marks and white chocolate on hand for me. In the evening we looked at a Quelle mail-order company catalogue and she and I were allowed to choose one thing per page that we would like to have. On Easter Sunday, she went through a lot of trouble to hide my Easter nest as heavily as possible. Oma Else had so many possessions that it was easy to hide things.
She often remembered me, especially regarding the trip to Mallorca. That probably meant more to her than I realised. When I told her how she stubbornly started walking in Mallorca without a rollator, a mischievous smile often came out from under the absent expression on her face. She was always a cheeky one.
But I also sat at the table with her while she drank the coffee, ate a jam sandwich, and didn’t know who I was. Especially during the time, I was taking the photos. I moved away from my home town in 2010 and came back mostly at Christmas time.
Oma Else died in May 2021.