We started April with a day in Ilkas garden where we re-claimed a bit of the front yard from the Hops. It was hard work, but it was nice to be out and about working away in the sun.
Unfortunately the weekend before easter my grandfather passed away. He was in hospital still the previous day and had just returned home. He died peacefully with my grandmother at his side. In case you don’t know, we have a very tight knit family, and although this wasn’t unexpected, it hit me pretty hard causing me a few days of uncaring numbness. Manja was a godsend walking through it with me and helping me cope. This was the first time I really struggled being so far away – but with the coronavirus going on it would have been extremely difficult for me to support terribly much anyway. Most of all, though, I’m sad that I did not get to see him again after leaving Australia.
The easter weekend held a lot of sadness and doubts for me as I adjusted to this reality. Manja and I went for a 80 km ride, which actually really helped. Just having time to exert physically. We also spent the evening playing some online games with friends, which was a fantastic distraction. On Sunday I also made “Oster Zopf” a traditional sweet yeast bread…. It may have turned out a bit larger than intended 😅
Monday was easter Monday, and as we couldn’t do family things thanks to Corona, I had setup a video call to chat with Amy for a bit. One of my highlights was virtually meeting her daughter Paisley 🥰
I spent the remainder of Monday putting together a slideshow of Opas life – of the photos I could get my hands on anyway.
On Thursday was his funeral – which my family arranged specifically late in the afternoon so I could join by Skype. So it was that I was at the funeral on my couch, at 10 am my time. It was a short service, but many, many of the moments moved me to tears. After the funeral we walked around the park a bit and chatted to my family.
You’ll have to bear with me here, as I write sort of a eulogy of what he meant to me.
My Opa taught me early not to take life too seriously. It took a long time for me to really learn it, and be able to relax, accept my faults and just enjoy life anyway. His guiding voice allowed me to get there. He was truly inspirational to me in how he talked about his flaws and mistakes openly to us. He explained difficult situations and decisions he faced in life and what had happened. Opa didn’t hide lifes messy twists and turns, wanting us to be able to learn from his mistakes . He was always so thankful that Oma stuck through everything with him, and was totally devoted to her. He taught me to hold a hammer properly, and to not be afraid of power tools. Opa saw my leadership traits before anyone else, and reminded me early to keep my feet on the ground. He let me make the mistakes I needed to but was always there to counsel me by way of stories of his life. Each had a moral, usually “be humble” “trust people” “love unconditionally” and “believe in yourself”. I will miss his insights when I find myself at a crossroad.
But for every wisdom that he presented, he was always the jester. He could tell you stories of his youth, unable to deal with authority. If I were his boss, I thought many a time, I would have fired him for that. It took a long time to understand that people who are truly excellent at what they do don’t need strict rules; just the freedom to do what they need to. The moment I truly understood that was as he was telling me a story about jumping onto a workbench and yelling like a gorilla first thing in the morning just to scare his up-tight boss. Then he went on to fix the thing that no one else could fix a shot time later. And in that moment my potential as a leader doubled, and my career took off all on its own.
I’ve always said that my family forged me into the Man I am today, and I learned a great deal from each and every one of them. I am so very thankful to have every single one of them in my life, and Opas passing will leave a massive Opa-shaped hole in my heart. It can never be filled, and should never be. The sorrow I feel, though, means that I got to love him and be loved so unconditionally. I will forever be grateful, and hope to one day inspire someone else as he inspired me.
… and when my overbearing arrogant self comes to the front next time, and he will, I will hear his voice telling me to “lower my nose” and to always give everyone understanding and compassion rather than judgement.
Thank you Opa. I will miss you, and will carry you in my heart forever.