Not only sadness but love and joy.
“How many more deaths can we bear?” my grandmother sighed. I thought so too and asked if life was like this, “Always sadness and tears?” My grandmother had no immediate answer but held me tight. After a long pause she said, “No child, what we have between us is not only sadness but love and joy.”
We called the waterhole the duck pond even though there were no ducks. We children would splash at the pebbly waterfront but we were not allowed to swim. Horses came to drink. A farmhand would drive them into the murky water. It was said that an undertow swirled just below the horse’s belly.
On a chilly night in February 1946 my mother walked into the pond as I had seen the horses do. “Stop, Mutti,” I yelled.
My mother Gerda-Maria was born under a hot African sun in the German colony of Southwest Africa, today’s Namibia. In Keetmanshoop the flag in front of the hospital was raised halfway. It would have been flying full mast if Gerda-Ma…