Countess Josephine

An Island Francophile with British roots rolled together with solid Americana, garnished with Asian/African heritage and a whisper of the Mediterranean, I love to practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. Throwing some Sunshine your way - Enjoy!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

An Ode to Frau Dora Hofer


On my first trip to Wattens, a little town in the district of Innsbruck, in the state of Tyrol, in the country of Austria, I found a world I had never experienced. Wattens may not sound very familiar to you, but it is the home of Swarovski Kristallwelten. Swarovski, like Disney, employs many of the locals and subsidizes their expenses. Why they have even gone so far as to let retirees keep their subsidized apartments until they pass onto greener pastures. But my story is not about the world of crystal but the woman who introduced me to the most peaceful life a person could have.

Frau Hofer, was a little lady with short blond gray hair and piercing blue eyes. When she smiled her crows feet tickled the corners of her eyes. And they danced happily - always. When she spoke everyone listened attentively. She adopted me as a Tochter, even though I wreaked of “eau de foreigner” and I treated her as meine Mutter. An early riser, breakfast was always fresh from the Bäckerei. We ate and chatted. Meine Mutter, spoke slowly so that I could understand and learn. She used a lot of sign language and pointed to items, teaching me the German word for each, and I, in return taught her the English equivalent. We were such a great team.

Everyday, we explored a different town surrounding Innsbruck. But my favorite thing to do after lunch and maybe an afternoon nap, was to walk in the mountains. Our walks were long and I had many nosebleeds to go with the altitude changes. We picked wild strawberries and blueberries along the way, very delicious and always seemed to end our walk at a cafe that seemed to appear out of nowhere on the mountainside. We’d have a coffee and dessert or ice cream, which is very refreshing believe it or not after walking on a very cold day.

It was on one of our many walks that Frau Dora told me about her failed relationship with her son's father. He was an SS officer during the War and she fell in love immediately. As the story unfolded, through my translator, I could see the sadness in her eyes. Time had long passed and she had healed some of the wounds but not all. She was sad that her son did not have a great relationship with his father which made him a cynical loner. She was happy now though. Her companion of too many years to count was Hans. He adored her and was her second chance at love. During her late sixties, she had a stroke and had to learn to write all over again. Although it was quite frustrating, she had Hans to assist her and he was as patient as she was when teaching me.

At night, Frau Dora would tuck me in under many layers of down comforters as I was not used to cold weather and then she'd open the windows sligthly so that the heaters would not become overbearing. The large dark curtains were drawn to kill the bright light in the 10:00 pm sky. I was cozy, got eine große kuss and was off to dreamland.

My trips were a month long every time, five years in a row, and it was so easy to get lost in the easiness of Wattens, especially with such a gracious hostess. I will miss her very much and hope that she is happy in heaven sprinkling angel dust on the most deserving of human beings.

Vielen Dank für die Erinnerung!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You painted this story with such poise and honesty that I became lost in this quaint peaceful world as you experienced it. You have the gift of conveying pieces of your soul to others unabashed. I love the way you slip in words from different languages without explaining that this means.... I could figure out the meaning as it is in context. Your subject sounds like a most beautiful woman and your constancy in her life must been such a pleasure for her. Brilliant!
DR