Posted by: tabliope | May 19, 2009

in a heartbeat

Although Frau Gruber is pretty switched on with the English language and discussions about social policy, her short-term memory is letting her down slightly and last week I found myself with the dilemma of whether or not to have someone break into her apartment when she wasn't there for our usual meeting.  Always preferring to operate on the safety-in-numbers theory I decided to phone Johnny and ask him whether he thought I should phone the police to break down the door of a lady that I don't really know that well.  It was either asking someone who had never met her, wasn't actually on the spot and had no better an idea than I did, or sending a tweet to the internet and asking for their advice.  While Johnny was telling me that he had no idea Frau Gruber turned up and expressed great surprise in my being outside her apartment because we hadn't made arrangements to meet.  That note in her diary hadn't actually been there when she'd left the building.  Had it? 

The reason she hadn't been in her apartment is because she'd been to see a doctor who had wired her up to a portable heart monitor because she seemed to have an irregular heart beat and yesterday they checked the results and there is indeed a pause after every fourth beat.  It's been recommended that she have a pacemaker fitted but she told me that she's not having it, there is no point.  What does she have left to live for, she asked me, while she told me about her plans to visit Zurich to go to the opera and then go onto stay in Lucern for a few days.  But I know what she means because she's alone and has been widowed for just over a year and the opera doesn't replace anything merely provides a staging post before she has to make another plan to compensate for the lack of balance, the lack of her partner, in her life.  




  1. This is sad.

  2. [this is good] I seem to be hearing a lot of the same at the moment. X x x

  3. I really think it’s very sad that such a woman thinks there is no point to life without her husband. I can understand that life may feel very different for her, but pointless? Really? Despite all my love and respect for my other half, I doubt I will ever feel like she does, and I hope he never does either.

  4. I can’t imagine what it must be like towards the end of one’s life… Clearly, she’s depressed.  It’s good that she’s at least got you around to help lift her spirits.  Has she any children?

  5. This is sad.

  6. I honestly believe that life offers you many things, no matter how desparate one’s condition is.
    But I don’t know desperation, so perhaps I shouldn’t even comment.  But a person cannot depend on one element of joy to the exclusion of all others.  It sounds like Frau Gruber has built a wall around herself, which I hope isn’t the case.  There is so much beauty out there.

  7. I agree with everyone and I felt quite cross that she feels as she does (irrational, I know) but then I wonder if it’s because I’m so much younger and would I feel like that, as a widow at 84 years old.  What is interesting is that she says things like that yet her actions point in other directions – she does make plans to do things and she wants to meet me and she does lots of other activities, although I know that she is quite lonely.  

  8. Maybe she still enjoys the things around her on some level, but she just lacks the energy required to make those things meaningful.  She might have been saying ‘pity me’ or she might have been expecting you to reaffirm that she has a life worth living. 
    I suspect if I reach her age and my H had recently died then some days it might take a little more that my own will power to get up and see purpose in my life.  Other days I’d probably be fine and book tickets to the opera and 18-30 holidays to Ibiza.

  9. I did wonder, Jando about the ‘pity me’ thing but she seemed quite resolved that she wouldn’t have the pacemaker fitted.  

  10. A life filled with loving a partner. A shared identity splintered by death. Their absense can feel claustraphobic. At this age their is no hope of new love and no energy to fill the space. And some people feel ready to die. At least this is how some of my clients feel.

  11. Excuse my appaling spelling!

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