On July 11th 2010 my grandmother Margarethe Gruber had died. It was an unexpected death, an accident she had on her beloved terrace in front of her beautiful little house in the mountains took her from us. She was 86 years old, her sight was bad and she barely could walk. Still, she loved her daily walks, winter or summer, she started in the morning and walked through the woods around the little village she was living in. Most of the time she went alone, but often one or more of us joined her. She then talked a lot, she had a good sense of humour and, may I add, a very black brand of it as well. “Gretl” loved her football (no, it’s not called soccer). She didn’t have a team she specifically preferred, she was up to date with all who played Champion’s League in that year – or European or World Cup. Sure, she didn’t prefer a team, but she had teams she not only simply disliked, no, downright despised and hated. I wouldn’t name them here as I don’t wish to offend. When watching football she sat very closely to the TV, more to hear than to see and be in midst of the action. When “her” team (which varied) was losing, she pulled out her hair and screamed at the screen from her front row spot in the living room football arena. Then she cursed the coach and the whole team up to their ancestors in times before the wheel was invented. Still, she seemed convinced that football existed back then. Oma, as we use to say here in Austria to our Grandmothers, loved her football, but playing a game of “sixty-six” she enjoyed even more. Till this day I don’t exactly know how this game of cards, which she dearly loved, works. But that didn’t matter because there always seemed to be exceptions from exceptions from the rules. Grandma might have been nearly blind but she still could see which card one of her opponents played. And don’t you DARE and try to trick her. She knew exactly which card it was and she’d call everyone out who tried to cheat. When she had a very good deck she used to smile her little smile and all the little wrinkles in her faced seemed to smirk with her. You just knew you’re in trouble. And then she delivered, boy, she delivered. She took down the whole table alone at once.
My younger sister, my two cousins and I used to spend a big part of our school holidays in winter and summer with my grandparents. In winter granddad used to go skiing with us, while grandma preferred sledging. She didn’t like it when we were too wild, especially since we always tried to outdo each other with stupid ideas. Not that I was the one who said she wouldn’t be a chicken and brake too early before a curve. Nope. Totally never happened. I also didn’t bounce against the planks in the curve. That also never happened. See, she absolutely had no reason to be worried.
In summer we used to go swimming in a nearby mountain lake. Naturally it wasn’t very warm and even more this was the case after a week of summer rain. Well… On one day after a week like this our grandma talked us into going swimming. But as we arrived there my sister and I refused to go into the water since nobody was in it. Granny than took off her clothes to her swimming suit and marched into the water like it was warm sea water. She said it wasn’t cold and that we’re just spoiled little ducklings. Of course we couldn’t take that without a fight and went into the water. BAD mistake. It was like diving straight into a glacier. I was surprised the lake wasn’t frozen. And grandma laughed and laughed and laughed and swam circles around us while doing so. She was like a swim cap-wearing dolphin.
I miss her.