We show our kindness in different ways. I remember Aunt Lucie as that someone special who would take the time to listen to me. At the time I met her I was still in high school. On our walks I would tell her little stories, jokes, and humorous puzzles, some of which I passed on 50 years later to our grandson Mateo. (One puzzle was about catching a crocodile equipped only with an old newspaper, an empty matchbox, a telescope and a pair of tweezers.) When you are a teenager, you are craving the most for acceptance and recognition. Aunt Lucie’s laughter in response to my stories, her genuine interest in what I had to say, her humorous deportment, helped bridge the generation gap and were balm to my soul.
I also remember her as an avid card player in the traditional German card game Doppelkopf, in which I often participated later during my military service at the German NATO forces. When she would take a little bit too much time thinking about which card to play, her husband Uncle Günther would tease her about being too slow with his pet phrase, “Spiel Karte, Stück Holz, oder Eisenbahnschiene!”, which meant “Play a card, piece of wood, or railroad track!” Taking all this bantering in stride, she would good-naturedly respond in her strong Saxonian dialect, “I can take as much time as I want. And you can practice patience, while I am thinking!”
Among friends and family members Aunt Lucie was also known as an anti-germ freak. I was told that she would wipe every door knob and handle with a disinfectant when guests were passing through her house. She had to put up with a barrage of nasty remarks about her fears of disease carrying bugs lurking on all surfaces, which could come into contact with human hands. She stuck to her convictions, which while a bit exaggerated have proven her right in the light of our present day wash-your-hands campaign.
Aunt Lucie was able to lend a personal touch to kitchen and dining room by painting ornamental designs onto unfinished chests, benches and chairs. The flowery motifs were drawn from what she remembered from her childhood experiences in the Erzgebirge, where she grew up, a mountainous region near the Czech border famous for its many arts and crafts shops.
When Biene and I saw her for the last time on our visit from Canada in 1968, she impressed me with her keen interest in our new homeland Canada. I had brought her a little gift, a small replica of a totem pole. Even though she was bedridden and gravely ill, she wanted me to translate into German the lengthy description of the mythological creatures on the miniature pole. These are some of the things I remember about my fascinating Aunt Lucie.