Dear Family and Friends,
Elsa, celebrated Christmas in Uettligen with us last year, and before New Year’s, we enjoyed the pleasure of greeting
Micha’s boyfriend, Christian, in our home. Early in 2008, we also enjoyed
a visit from Linda’s cousin, Cheryl, with her daughter, Amy.
On May 4th,
Linda, Hubert, and Mark moved Elsa, then 96, into an old folk’s home. Her
new room is lovely, but still only one room instead of the four-room apartment which was her home for 35 years. Looking out onto the beautiful park with hundred-year-old trees, it appeared that the Caesar chestnut tree,
which blooms only once every several years, had opened its candle-like bushels of purple flowers just to welcome her.
In May and June,
Linda spent three weeks in Winterthur so we could turn Mama’s apartment over to the city by the end of June. Linda discovered that it was kind of wonderful living on her own: sleeping when she
wanted; reading; cooking when and what she wanted; working whenever she felt like it.
She took along a CD player and Italian language CD’s and listened to an Italian radio station. In the evenings, she sat on the balcony with a glass of red wine (from Mama’s supply in the cellar),
a plate of food balanced on the railing, and listened to a cousin of the nightingale sing while she watched the sun set. She pretended she had rented her own flat in the Toscana in Italy.
Working like a
fiend, she sorted through every piece of paper and object, creating a mountain of things on Mama’s bedroom floor for
Hubert, Micha, Mark, and various neighbors to look through before giving or throwing it all away. She saved everything she could, finding homes for a sofa, a bed, a mattress, a lamp mere minutes before
the truck with four workmen arrived to clear the place out. She advertised free
furniture on the internet and pleaded with three Good Will-type companies to cart things away… to no avail. Her heart broke when the men took a crowbar to the beautiful wall cupboard she had coveted for years. Bolts flew past her head as wooden shelves that had housed Mama’s treasures
splintered. The men destroyed an antique buffet stored in the attic so they could
carry the heavy pieces down four flights of stairs. 1,500 kilograms were transported
to a facility and burned. Swiss people aren’t interested in old things
unless they’re really, really old.
Linda cleaned the
four-room flat single-handedly. Twenty minutes after the agent arrived for the
takeover, the job was done. When she looked around and realised this was “goodbye,”
she burst into tears. Driving home, she told Hubert, “At least I get to
take the best thing in the apartment home with me.”
that?” he asked.
Mark studied hard for his exams. He didn’t allow quite enough time, though. Three days before the statistics exam, he announced that he hadn’t yet begun
to study that. His good friend, Icebear, from the game of WOW and Berne University,
came to the rescue, teaching Mark everything he knew about statistics for the next two days.
Mark didn’t quite pass that course, but he only failed by very little and his other grades – three
5’s or 5 ½’s; (6 is tops) – were so good that he earned the privilege to continue studying business at Berne’s University. That was cutting it close!
97th birthday, Micha, Mark, Hubert and Linda accompanied her to her favourite restaurant on the hillside above
Winterthur where they ate in a garden.
In August, Hubert
and Linda took a two-week vacation, driving north with overnight stops in Köln and Bremen on their way to Kiel, Germany, where
they boarded the MSC Opera for a week of cruising Norwegian Fjords. Their ship
stopped in Copenhagen, Geiranger, Bergen, Oslo. German table companions helped make dining
each evening a high spot. On his first cruise ever, Hubert discovered that, like
Linda, he loves it. They stood for hours on deck watching the land roll by and
light play upon the ever-shifting surface of the sea.
During the second
week, they drove around, exploring: lovely little Lubeck – Linda can’t wait to
see the film, “Buddenbrucks”; the island of Ruegen
with prehistoric burial site, white chalk cliffs (over-rated), and nudist beaches on the East Sea.
(Being somewhat conservative, they kept their bathing suits on). They
visited Leipzig – only partially renovated since ‘The Wall’ came down, and
Ingolstadt where Frankenstein purportedly constructed his
job? Well, don’t ask what he does, but it must be important because at
one reception for Swiss ambassadors from all over the world, Linda got to shake hands with the current Swiss President, Pascal
Couchepin, a very large man; former Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey, “What amazing skin she has!”, and Bundesratin
and possible future Swiss President (they take turns), Doris Leuthard… a warmly real woman; Linda liked her a lot! That’s three of the seven Swiss Heads of State at one party. Groupie that she is, Linda found this pretty exciting.
On October 3rd,
she flew to America. First she visited her sister Debbie in Phoenix. Debbie’s house had flooded a month earlier.
When Linda arrived, it was empty, gutted, with cement floors like a house under construction. Usually, Linda likes to help clean and organize. This year
there was nothing to clean, since nothing
was there! So, she worked organizing their mother’s poems instead.
Next, at her Aunt
Marjorie’s in San Francisco, Marjorie, Cousin Wendy
and Linda had a ball cleaning, eating, watching the presidential debates, and just being together. It was exciting to be in America
during election fever. Linda could get an election fix whenever she felt like
it just by turning on a TV. They had fun getting to know Michelle and Barack. She made sure Micha’s, Mark’s, and her ballots were mailed on time so
their votes would count. She thoroughly enjoyed visits with Cousin Kathy and
partner Maggie who gave her and Wendy a private tour of the San Francisco Academy of Science where they volunteer as docents,
and spending time with Pierre, Jessie and their charming daughter, Andrea, and talking with Uncle Henri.
Linda called her
Dad on Saturday morning, October 11th, to remind him she would be arriving in Salt
Lake City that evening. “I haven’t forgotten,”
he said. “I’ll pick you up at the airport.” His voice sounded strange, like something was wrong. When
she asked, he replied, “We’ll talk when you get here.” Flying
to Salt Lake,
she prayed for the strength to deal with whatever had happened. She thought something
bad must have happened to Elaine which her dad didn’t want to tell her over the phone.
When she arrived, it was her father who was not well. Elaine was fine,
bright and thriving with 24-hour-a-day loving attention from wonderful Utah
women caregivers. Dad, it seemed, had entered the dying process. If Linda had known he had only three weeks to live, she might have stayed, but she flew home on October
24th. When she asked him what she should do, he replied, “Your
place is with Hubert.”
Dad never complained. He never asked for assistance. He was
courageous, mustering all the strength he had left to carry on: continuing to care for Elaine, putting in her hearing aids
in the mornings and picking her up after meetings, attending church, though he had to leave in the middle of that final service,
driving to the Post Office on a tax errand, stopping by the bank, shopping at Smith’s, picking up meds, working on a
backlog of paperwork he couldn’t quite seem to keep up with any longer...
On November 13th,
after a week in the hospital, Richard Henry Lockett passed away. One of Elaine’s
caregivers told Linda over the phone, “He looked very peaceful. He had
a big smile on his face.” He told Linda he wasn’t afraid; he was
looking forward to the next phase.
While Linda was
in America, Mama went downhill. She stopped going to the dining room for meals with the other ladies.
She stays in her room now, day in and day out. She says she lets her life
memories flow past her in review. She’s homesick for her little family
– us. It’s a four hour trip on the train to visit her. We don’t go often enough.
Linda loves singing with Lorrie Scheller's little
choir, Melodia. They sing folk songs for women in Eastern European languages and particpated in two concerts
in 2008: in a park by a stream in mid-summer and in a darkened church lit by a hundred candles on a sea of mirrors
as part of Berne's "Night of Religions" celebration.
In early November,
after a visit to Mama, Hubert and Linda rode the train to Zürich where Micha met them at the station and walked with them
to Christian’s new apartment where the young couple had prepared a scrumptious dinner of raclette and white wine. Afterwards, Linda and Hubert strolled to Lake
Zurich to taste wine on eight wine ships, arriving just in time to watch
the gates close for another year. Oops.
In November, Hubert
and Linda spent three days at a five-star wellness hotel in the Black Forest of Germany near the famous Lake Titisee.
What, you never heard of it?! This was a holiday so perfect, it had to
be a second honeymoon. Hubert works so hard, he could well use the rest and relaxation. They loved the saunas, infrared cabin, meditation music, swimming in a pool with snow
on the ground outside the windows all around, an outdoor hot tub in the snow, gourmet dinners in a 500-year-old room, buffet
breakfasts with freshly-made omelettes any way you like them, and sparkling wine.
her full salary from her employer, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, for studying for six months.
She passed five days of exams with outstanding grades. Theo did, too. Two more years of work experience, one more exam, and the license to audit major corporations
will be theirs. She visited Christian in Los Angeles
for three weeks last summer, flying to Salt Lake
for a quick visit with Gramps and Nana (Dad and Elaine). She is having the time
of her life, 25 years old with her own apartment in Zürich, a super boyfriend, and Juliette, her best girlfriend from the
Uettligen days living in Zürich now, too. PWC is in the midst of their ‘busy
season’ and Micha couldn’t be happier. She’ll be home for Christmas. We can’t wait!
9, 2007 and November 7, 2008, Linda played over 1,100 hours of WOW. That’s
the equivalent of working four hours a day for 365 days. Yes, she was addicted. She gave up gaming on November 7th, 2008 to return to writing. In November, she wrote over 50,000 words for Nanowrimo’s ‘National Novel Writing Month’
contest, and… she just kept going. Sadly, a week ago, she started gaming
again. Seven more levels and her little ice mage gnome, Leil, will reach level
80. Then Linda should be able to quit… again. Wish her luck.
And have a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful
Love, Linda, Hubert, Micha, Mark, Christian, and Diamond
me and my dad, a long long time ago when all good stories start…