Remembering: Return

/ 11 April 2011

IpadAlex joined me on my return to Vienna a year ago today. We were coming back to care for Oma, sick at home, so Dagmar could return to the US to attend to matters at home for a while. Our flight included a very long layover in Amsterdam, which gave me an opportunity to share our brand new iPad with the crew at the local Mac store. A few hours walking and boating around Amsterdam and we were back en route to Austria.

Dagmar had to leave the day before we were arriving, but we knew Oma, who was still bedridden, would be home. She was being cared for by Veronica for another week before Anna also returned. We found a chocolate bunny sitting on the shelf by Oma’s bed and fed her a bit of it. It was springtime, Eastertime, in Vienna, my favorite time to visit. On April 8 I wrote:

Alex and I arrived safely in Vienna last night. Oma was waiting up for us and very happy to see us arrive. She smiled and even laughed at part of our story.

Oma has had pneumonia these past few days, but we are seeing little evidence of this, her kidneys were also in a bit of trouble, but no complaints from her about this. She did, however, complain to me that she didn’t like anything Veronica was making her to eat, so I promised schnitzel for today.


After a walk around Cobenzl in the fabulous Vienna spring weather, Alex and I l got down to the business of cooking. Alex worked on cucumbers while I cooked the schnitzel. I put the whole tray in front of Oma and told her it was for her. Since I am used to cooking for a hungry family of four, that was quite a bit of schnitzel. “Um Gott es willen,” said Oma! When I returned with her real portion nicely cut into pieces she got an angry look on her face, “I hate it all cut up,” she said. Veronica warned me that she could not cut her own food, so I gave Oma an extra piece uncut, but left the cut-up portion there. Of course, she cut and ate the whole uncut piece just fine, and left the pre-cut stuff behind. Go Oma!

All in all she seems much better than she was two weeks ago, more engaged than she was two weeks ago. Alex and I will be here for a month.

I invited family to write to Oma at an email address I set up… “I’m sitting here with Oma, who does not really approve of computers. They take too much time away from life together, as she sees it. But, I have thought of something that Oma may approve of: an email address for Oma!” I found the iPad was a wonderful way to sit with Oma and still have my books to read or my email at hand. It was out-of-the-way enough that it didn’t annoy her, tapping on the screen to type was virtually silent. Alex created a Flickr photo set and started sharing pictures with the family.

It became clear that Oma and Veronica were not a good match. Veronica insisted on her way of doing things, and that way often didn’t sit well with Oma. Veronica would also back off when Oma complained, leaving her not well positioned or settled. Oma would cry out at all hours of the night for Veronica or me, which was wearing me down. Alex and I tried to spend some time away from the house every day just to get away from the tension.

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