One of the things that I love about the German language is the way that things are exactly what they are. Today I went to the funeral of one of my colleagues at the Tafel and funeral is trauerfeier – which translates literally as 'sad celebration'. I don't know if this is to celebrate sadness or to be sad while we celebrate life or what but I rather like the description. Should the form I submitted to the Post Office requesting not to die get lost then I quite fancy a Trauerfeier rather than a funeral.
Ulla was the first person I met when I started working at the Tafel and she was one of these lovely people who gets things done because she just doesn't entertain that there might be a problem. She enlisted me to help out on all sorts of outreach activities and talking to people about what the Tafel does and was adamant that it didn't matter that I wasn't fluent in German. 'Du kannst mit Hand und Fusse zeigen' she'd tell me – you can point with your hand and feet which I think means that I could use sign language when all else failed. She'd worked for the Tafel for a long time and ran one of our satellite shops out in one of the less touristy parts of our town. Apart from this she'd also been instrumental in setting up a soup kitchen and working hard to make sure that the people who needed it knew it was there. The thing that really grabbed me today was the number of street people and customers of the Tafel who turned up, each of them clutching a flower. Outside the chapel there were more people who knew Ulla but because of their dogs on strings they weren't allowed inside. (God doesn't like dogs). I can't think of a better send-off for her and I hope there's at least one person with a dog on a string clutching their Thunderbird when I go.