Friday, November 20, 2009

Uncle Konrad

Need to talk about my German relatives for a minute.... my mom had many brothers and sisters, but I only knew 4 of them personally ... Viktor, Marie, Lucie and Konrad. I think that's in order .... not sure if Viktor or Maria was older, but then Lucie was next and then my mom and then Konrad was the baby. I visited Germany once with mom when I was 12. I was scared to death that I was going to get lost there and I didn't understand what anyone was saying. I have many times wished we had gone back again one day when I was older and could appreciate the culture (and FOOD!) more. But we never did. Several of my relatives have come to visit us over the years, and I have enjoyed getting to see them. Especially Uncle Konrad. He was cool.

We got an email from my cousin last week that Uncle Konrad had passed away. He was in a nursing home, and evidently had Alzheimers or something similar and was not recognizing family anymore. My mom said the last time she spoke with him, he did not know who she was. But it's just sad to me that he's gone now and mom is the last of her generation.

My dad called Uncle Konrad "you old Kraut". Dad was not known for his tact .... he really didn't mean any harm, but just didn't know better most times. Picture Archie Bunker ... well, maybe not QUITE that obvious, but he was on that spectrum. Anyway, Uncle Konrad was known for being, how shall we say ... cheap! We would laugh because he did not have a phone, and he wouldn't pay for a newspaper. He would just go sit in the park until someone left their paper and he would read it. He could afford those things, but just didn't want to spend the money. I think that's one huge reason why he never married. But when he came to visit us, close to the end of his visit you would see him over in a corner somewhere counting out his money, and he would always hand some to me and my brothers. And he would always eat every single scrap of food on his plate ... never left a drop of anything on it. I suppose that happens when live through a world war and not get enough to eat at times ... you really appreciate what you do have. My mom is very similar ... she won't spend more than $10 or $15 bucks for anything for herself, but if I need something, out comes the $50 or $100 or whatever she thinks I need.

Uncle Konrad was able to come to our wedding! I think he had already planned a visit when we got engaged in October, 1992, and then he cut that trip short so that he could come back for the wedding in April, 1993. He gave us a beautiful set of silverware as a wedding gift, but I was just happy to have him there.

Those are some good Krauts....

And just for the record, I think mom said she had 2 older brothers who died young ... one was injured at school and had to walk all the way home afterwards, and he didn't survive long after that. The other was either blind or deaf, I believe, and he was sent off to a special school that could help him with living skills, but he died while at school. I don't think mom ever knew how exactly. Then there was Agnes, who died when I was young. All I remember of that time was mom sitting in a chair with her arm over her eyes while dad was herding us kids out of the house to give her some time to herself. Anytime Agnes' name came up, mom would say "the good always die young." Viktor died several years ago. Then Marie died in 2007, I believe ... the year my Maria was born. by the way, Maria is technically named for my mom, who has many, many names ... Martha Monika Maria Magdelena Veronica Wiesner Rainwater. But I like to say she is partly named for her Tante Marie also, since the year of her birth coincided with the year Marie died. Then after dad died, when mom was still living alone in her house, she got a call from my cousin Gisela (married to Achim, who is Lucie's son) saying Lucie had died the week before. Lucie had also gotten ill and was not coherent, from what I understand, towards the end of her life. I don't talk about them much, i guess since they were just so far away and we didn't get to see them much, but I do wish mom could see my at least cousins one more time. She loves her family very much.

Maya and Water

fade in....

mommy is sitting in her armchair. the girls are upstairs playing
sounds from upstairs:

Act 1:
Two girls come downstairs into living room, laughing and giggling.

Maya: "my sleeve is all wet"
Mommy: "why is your sleeve wet?"
Maya: "the water leaked"
Mommy: "why did the water leak?"
Maya: "because"
Mommy: "because why?"
Maya: "because I put my arm in it."
Mommy: "ah."

I love my life! You just can't buy this kind of entertainment.....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Flight of the Bumblebees (and Tigger?)

Maya and Maria were supposed to both be bumblebees. Maya is the one who came up with the whole idea, as a matter of fact. She announced early, when costumes were just beginning to appear in stores, that she wanted to be a bee for Halloween. So off we went in search of bee costumes, and found really cute ones at the first place we went. So we bought bee costumes. Case closed, right? Not so much ..... fast forward several weeks, and the mom of one of Maya's school friends told me "in case you didn't know it already, Maya wants to be a tiger for Halloween." whaaaaaat? Of course, I've heard of those kids that change their minds all the time when it comes to their costumes. But I've always said (and I was such a perfect parent before I had kids) that MY kids would have to stick to whatever costume we bought first ... I'm not going to have those spoiled rotten kids who always get their way. HA! double-HA!

So I happened to be in Toys R Us a couple weeks ago and saw that they had their Tigger costumes 1/2 price already. And really, isn't $9.99 a STEAL for a Disney costume of any sort? Even if we don't use them, the girls could play dress up with them later, right? RIGHT?? So that's not really spoiling them, is it? I didn't even tell the girls I had the costumes, since I was sure Maya would revert to wanting her bee costume again. But when the neighbor stopped by on Oct. 29th and asked Maya what she was going to be for Halloween, of course she exclaimed "A Tiger!" So I packed up both outfits and took them all with me when we went to C, where we were going to visit with my mom and go to a friend's Halloween party and the kids would all trick-or-treat from there. Sure enough, here's my little Tiger/Tigger and my bee. Maria did not seem to like the Tigger costume at all, and really wasn't that fond of the bee outfit either, but that was easier to convince her to wear since she was able to slip it off every now and then and run around in her black pants and top.

So then we went to spend the night at another friend's house, and I found out her daughter was a bumblebee this year! So on go all the costumes again (it was soooo hot in C this year that I let my girls take their costumes off early, and they actually did a round of trick-or-treating in regular clothes at the end!) so we can do the photo shoot:

And a good one of my mom and my girls!