Today, March 19th, 2009 is a day for emotions but not for mourning. My mother passed away peacefully after only a few days of hospitalization. She was still up and walking yesterday evening refusing to be considered immobile. She truly died like an oak – standing up. I just remember that as I drove to the hospital this morning, a completely fresh, white blanket of snow – very unusual for this time of spring – covered the trees, lawns and houses in the outskirts of Vienna, as if to dampen the noises in respect.
My mother had a full life with all the ups and downs that one can imagine. She first learned to be seamstress only to turn to nursing shortly before the Second World War. Her life was however focused for ten years on her career in aquatic sports as a competitive diver in 10m platform and 3m springboard diving. She was Austrian Champion for many years and did participate in the last Olympic Games in Munich before the war. Her first husband died early in the war leaving her with a daughter. After the war she remarried and had another daughter and three sons, me being the oldest. After the war she was diagnosed with tuberculosis that only fully healed while she was pregnant with me. She said many times that I saved her life. After the war she studied medicine and became a medical doctor and worked as an anesthesiologist until she retired. Her extremely high medical ethics were always cause for discontent at the hospital, when she refused to perform at operations that were done without regard to the patient.
She always said that the hardest time of her life had been the fatal accident of my older sister Gabriele 20 years ago. That was even harder than my mother’s diagnosis with cervical cancer at 45 and her fight for survival. Before my father’s death 17 years ago she nursed him patiently for 7. Afterwards she did not rest but restarted a very active life, travelling with her friends in her camping van all over Europe, reaching Gibraltar, the North Cape, as well as Istanbul. I always expected her to die while on the road. She had been fairly well for the last years and only stopped driving last summer to her great disappointment but all our relief.
For me she was a lioness who was willing to risk her life for her family. She was however not the homy kind of person and always considered housecleaning a waste of valuable time. She lived a life of jolly chaos.
Considering all of the above how can someone be in sorrow? Yes, we will all miss her deeply but the grief is our emotional weight that does not weigh on her life. She lived her’s to the fullest and in many ways she set an example. She has enriched and touched the life of so many people who will keep her in respectful and loving memory. Please, spare us the condolences, but let’s continue to celebrate life like she did as the wonderful gift it is, until and beyond the day we die.
Goodbye, mother. We love you dearly!
Your son Max, in the name of my brothers Albert and Michael and the wonderful large family you built.