Childhood and youth took place within the normal bounds of our region. Lower middle class, father employed as a painter, mother was a housewife. I had tried unsuccessfully to get my high school diploma (Matura in Switzerland). My lack of maturity and excessive shyness at 15, were of little help, and I would cultivate my dream profession of meteorologist as a lifelong hobby.
My father was satisfied; he preferred a man with an occupational qualification to a “studied snob”. Before starting my professional life, however, I had the pleasure of doing my compulsory Swiss military service at the age of 20.
Seven years followed with three well-paid jobs in chemistry, and 3 trips to the USA; one of which lasted a full eight months. Apart from that, I was the big boy who refused to grow up, living with my parents and paying a small living allowance. My free time was spent reading the “Perry Rhodan” series of novels (does anyone still know this one?) and the Winnetou trilogy. I dreamed of adventurous journeys to foreign planets – or at least to the Wild West!
What I most enjoyed were my desert trips to North America, where I soon came to know the last dry corner and, moreover, had begun to investigate the locations of the cacti I had been collecting since the age of thirteen. Eight months through the Wild West, down to the southern tip of Baja California and across to Texas, then up to Oregon and Idaho. I started celebrating my loneliness instead of perpetually deploring it.
Reason enough to try again at 27…the desert areas of northern Mexico were still waiting for me to visit. A shorter version of the great USA desert expedition. Just six weeks – and the shy boy, the loner and, when sober, a passionate taciturn – was no more.
the headline probably went a little under because of the looming turmoil at the Berlin Wall.
I knew her just 3 weeks – plus the weekend of our first date and from a few airmail letters and a few phone calls during our 10 months of being apart.
But I already suspected in the first hours – she was a very special young woman!
When I realized that she had fallen in love, I felt the need to take care of her so that nothing would ever happen to her.
We announced then… after the three weeks and yes, the first time – the very first time for me – that we wanted to get married – and we went through with it.
The vacation in her hometown was to last six weeks, and in the last week we went to the marriage registry office.
The day before, I confessed this plan to my parents – and also that she would come back home with me. They couldn’t be there, of course. It takes 14 hours to fly from El Paso, Texas to Zurich. The fact that we would later live in Mexico had nothing to do with love, but with a sense of adventure.
Since that day, May 6, 1989, we have basically been together, officially only since April 11, 1990, our wedding day. By that time, the decision had already been taken that I would move to Mexico, to Ciudad Juarez.
21 years of riding roller coasters, maybe a bit of the Wild West with modern comforts in the Valley of the Outlaws – a bit like Robinson Crusoe, we created an oasis of well-being for ourselves and our three daughters from nothing. To describe these 21 years – it would turn into a soap opera, but a story is only good if it is credible – and often, unfortunately, nothing is more unbelivable than the truth.
which I still can’t get over. Much has remained familiar, but it is a strange world. Gone are the old friends, both parents dead, the siblings have lived other realities. What has remained is my life partner and our three daughters. We have set up a small Mexican oasis of well-being here in Switzerland, on the balcony there is a tiny image of the Sonora Desert and the Chihuahua Desert and almost the same plants that we had in the garden in Ciudad Juarez.
with the very first light of the day, my faithful companion has set out on her last journey on the path between the worlds, into this other world, whose existence I was allowed to guess on the eve of our coming together.
Quietly and silently she left, so as not to startle me, she waited for the moment when I briefly dozed off, listening to her increasingly shallow breaths. The last consequence was unexpectedly fast – on Saturday morning she had had a cheerful breakfast, at noon a sharp pain in her stomach made her vomit everything, in the evening she could barely talk to her brother on the phone before she finally dozed off again. On Sunday she stopped drinking, on Tuesday morning we were told it was a matter of days.
Back in Bahia, I had seen her fall in love before my eyes and had been touched immensely by it. I sensed for a tiny moment that from then on I would have to take care of her so nothing would happen to her. I remembered this when, upon my return, I found her restless and short of breath. To the gentle sounds of “El Muchacho de los Ojos tristes,” I counted out the morphine drops and administered them to her, writing everything down in the journal, as instructed, and then 5 drops of Haldol around 23:00, until her breaths became calmer. A last repositioning, a whispered “Don’t be afraid, nothing will happen to you” as well as a “Don’t leave yet” in her ear… I took a seat at her side for the night.
and was confirmed by the family doctor at 7 o’clock. She was gone. Quietly… In the same position in which I had laid her down.
There was still time to place her down nice and straight. The mortician came at lunchtime to pick up what she had left for us.
The last 5 weeks of our time together here on earth would have been unimaginable without such deep connection and soulful like-mindedness. I knew that for all the hardships, fear and tears, I could only expect her love, her love for me which has never been in the slightest doubt and which made everything possible.
Lerne von unsere Erfahrungen!