Pieces of Living History

If you remember, I wrote a few weeks ago about this brunch that I spoke at and I met a woman who blew me away from her first memories and her experience in the world.  She had given me her card so I sent her an email.  I said that I loved meeting her and hearing a bit of her story but I would also love to get coffee with her and hear more of her story.  Renate emailed back and we set up a time.  It had to wait a bit since Ana and I were in Madrid all last week (more about some of those experiences later :)). Yesterday I made the trek across the city to Renate’s house.

She greeted me at the door of her house in the west with a warm welcome.  She had set up her lovely sun porch with her china, coffee and little sweet treats. We settled into our comfy chairs and talked with ease.  Over the next hour and 45 minutes or so, we talked non stop….basically me asking more questions and she telling me more stories…

About fleeing and  hiding from the Nazis with her family since her grandfather had become a loud and staunch objector to Hitler’s rule….about remembering guns pointed at her at the age of 5 and as a child being isolated from all others to avoid suspicion from others who were Hitler supporters….about education as a woman in Germany and finding it elsewhere…about meeting her husband who started conferences of reconciliation after WWII all over the world to try to unite people under peace…about raising her two boys in a world where there was a wall running in the middle of the city that she moved to in 1971….about being in the world now and choosing joy about diversity rather than being upset that the world is changing even as she turns 80 next week…about her views expanding and realizing that younger generations right now have little concept of history…

And at this point I thanked her profusely for being living history for me. I have no concept of the history of this place, no matter how much I read and research and walk along the streets.  These stories are hard to imagine and yet here she is.  At the end of our time, we agreed this was well worth the time and effort.

And I got on the train and came home, in awe of the people around me.

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