Early in December a close family member had a significant stroke. She was given only a small chance of pulling through but as luck would have it, she thankfully has remained with us, and made considerable improvements during rehabilitation. It meant that our Christmas day festivities were postponed, and on the 25th of December we spent the day in a small regional rehab centre. It proved to be quite a remarkable day.
We arrived at the rehab centre on Christmas morning to find that most of the patients had gone home for the day (not an option for our loved one), and all but two of the staff had the day off. Much of the day was spent very quietly chatting away over cups of tea, often repeating phrases for clarity, and generally taking things very slowly. The two nursing staff working that day were wonderfully attentive and also chose to have lunch with us, which was greatly appreciated.
After lunch I started a conversation with a preposterously nimble minded 91 year old lady originally from Germany. She showed me pictures of herself and her father during WW2 looking very debonair and smart in his SS officers uniform. She explained that they had moved to Austria after the war and then settled in Australia. She spoke fondly of her time in Germany growing up under Hitler’s reign, and believed that he had brought great pride to the German nation. When I asked about the horror of the ‘Final Solution’, she was unrepentant and believed that it had been the right thing to do.
I suspect if I had been listening to a younger person I may have left the conversation with a some sharply chosen words, but in the spirit of the day I listened intently to this very softly spoken woman. I won’t go into the details, but she was adamant that Hitler had been a hero, fighting for justice for her homeland. She was happy to listen to my obvious counter arguments, but believed I was too soft in a harsh unforgiving world. While I found her views on Hitler abhorrent, nonetheless, her life had been fascinating and I enjoyed our long whisper like conversation.
After what seemed like another fifty or so cups of tea my wife and I set off for the long drive home. We both remarked how enjoyable the day had been. It had been a very different Christmas day. Everybody had spoken quietly and slowly and with long pauses, and this had a very calming effect on us. We both agreed that Christmas day 2017 will go down as possibly our most enjoyable. It reinforced to me yet again, that going slow means you get to actually experience so much more than when you rush to get more done. If you get a chance, I recommend turning the outboard off and drifting for awhile.