One of the things Mark and I have always been aware of, in general and then specifically regarding this trip, concerns the need to make sure we take care of ourselves.
Staying in the hospital guesthouse is one way we are taking care of ourselves: at 95 Euros a night it is almost twice as expensive as the youth hostel would have been, but being only a 5 min walk (all indoors) away from my mother’s room makes it worth every penny. Priceless as they say. Not that she needs us at a moment’s notice, but being able to see her for a bit at a time, and late at night, instead of in big chunks of time during the day (to make it worth the trip from downtown Stuttgart) has taken a lot of pressure off the scheduling.
The room, mini-suite, itself is very nice. Spacious enough to feel generous, immaculately clean – like a hotel room, they clean it every morning. The bathroom in particular is spotless. There was a bottle of mineral water on the table, two glasses, and with the mini fridge in the small sink-with-countertop we can store left-overs and bottles of juice or soda.
The person in charge of the guesthouse has been wonderfully understanding and flexible and entgegenkommend. We were able to extend our stay by one night at a time without a problem. We felt welcome.
Another way we take care of ourselves is the way, the time, and what we eat. This part of Germany (or perhaps all of Germany? I don’t know) is famous for its bakeries: there are delicious cakes, Torten, Brezeln, Broetchen in all kinds of variations. So, for dinner tonight, at the cafeteria (because we didn’t feel like going out), I had warmen Apfelstrudel mit Vanillesauce, and a slice of some kind of Sahnetorte. And a cup of Milchkaffee. Not a traditional dinner, but it took care of me.
Not worrying about money. This is an expensive trip. We keep track of what we spend, we save receipts, and once we’re back home we’ll total it up, but right now we don’t care what that total will be. Because my purpose here is so practical – helping my mother with legal and financial things, talking with the bank, looking at nursing homes – I hadn’t taken the time to get her some flowers. The cafeteria here sells bouquets, and when my mother mourned that the bouquet a friend had brought her was spent, I bought her a new one. The flowers, like probably in every hospital flower shop, are short-lived, and over-priced, but for now she has a fresh and beautiful bouquet in her room.
Mark is patient with me. I take him up on his offer to say ” not now please” when he wants to tell me something I don’t have the patience to listen to. He holds me when I cry, sometimes he cries with me.
We knew it would be heavy to take electronics but we knew it would take care of us to take two laptops, his iPod, my iPod Touch, two cell phones, cables, cords and connectors and chargers for everything, and we have made extensive use of all of that. The only thing we haven’t used yet is the Eddie (Edirol) – an mp3/wav recording device I thought I might use to record conversations with my mother, or the doctor.