This topic is going to be up, close and personal. Today, instead of my usual musical topics, I’ll dedicate this short story to my grandmother.
French actor Fernandel used to say “grannies are frail, they are soft, they smell good like lilac and mimosa, and one day, they are not here any more”…words couldn’t express how much I miss the woman whom I owe the most precious hours of my childhood.
My granny used to live in a small area, near the German border…even the name of my grandparents’ quarter, Hochwald, would sound German to any French speaking ear.
I used to communicate in German with my granny who did not speak one single word of French, despite the fact she had been living in France since she was 14…her husband (my grandpa) was German speaking too. When I was a little kid, nearly everybody expressed in a German dialect. Yes, I know, it sounds weird as it was counted as a French territorry, but this is the case of most French territories near the German border in Alsace-Lorraine, where most people of my generation grew up bilingual.
Sweet childhood memories are coming up to my mind, bringing me back to the age of innocence.
I remember how I would sit in a warm bed at her house and she would tell me the story of Rumpelstielschen. I wanted her to repeat it over and over again. Kids are very repetitive and usually love fantastic tales. I fell in love with Grimm’s MÃ¤rchen at a very early age.
My granny would teach me about German culture and history. She would narrate very concrete stories such as WWII stories, how she went through that awful period. Her way of telling stories made them become a living thing into my mind; particularly when she was telling me about the kilometers she made with her sister Charlotte to go to school.
I revived the scenes; it captivated me.
As strange as it might sound to my readers, I still remember great aunt Charlotte’s face, although she died when I was about 2 years and a half.
Sweet granny…she would cook chicken soup, Eintopf (a mixture of veal meat), Erbsensuppe (pea soup) for me and my childhood friend. We would sit there and laugh while sipping on her delicious home made lemonade.
I remember Christmas at her house. Good cinnamon smells would flatter my nose. The house was clean and fresh. It was full of people. We used to celebrate with simplicity and joy. Then we went to the mass. Even the mass wasn’t annoying for me, because my granny’s sweet and emotional voice fulfilled my ears.
My connection to the German language will always remain emotional I guess…It reminds me of my golden childhood hours.
I always felt guilty not to have been there when my granny passed away. I now realize she never left me.
Copyrightby Isabelle Esling
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