Last Saturday, I took some visiting friends to the Grunewald forest. After enjoying a lakeside picnic, we made our way up Teufelsberg hill, where we were rewarded with a magnificent view of the city.
I decided to call Frau B from the top of the hill. I wanted to describe the view but I was also keen to share some good news. My friends had got engaged the day before. Knowing what a fan Frau B is of romance and weddings, I knew she’d be happy to hear.
She answered after a couple of rings, indicating that she was in bed, rather than in her chair.
“How are you, Katechen?” she asked.
“Good,” I said, about to launch into a description of the view and my friends’ upcoming nuptials. “How are you?”
“I’ve been in hospital,” she said.
My stomach lurched. Frau B hates hospitals. She will go to significant lengths to conceal ailments in order to avoid going.
“I broke my leg,” she said.
“Oh no! When?”
“Last Thursday. In the corridor. I lost grip of my Zimmerframe and slipped. But I yelled and one of the carers came straight away.”
When I arrived I found Frau B in her usual spot by the window. She was in her nightie, resting her leg on a stool.
She looked as radiant as ever.
“Hello, Katechen” she said. “Are you alone?”
“LSB will be here in a while. He’s getting you your strawberries.”
“Ach! How nice.”
I asked Frau B about her hospital experience.
“I was on a trolley for two hours!” she said. “There was a man who got seen before me just because his wife made a fuss.
“When I did get seen, the first thing they did was an XRay. The doctor told me it was a clean break. Since I have a hole in my other foot, I asked him whether he could arrange a wheelchair for me.Do you know what he said?”
Frau B was looking pleased.
He said: ‘Not a hope! You’re still doing so well. If I stick you in a wheelchair now, you’ll never get out! You’re going to walk again. Bit by bit.”
“He’s right,” I said. “You’re only 96! Much too young for a wheelchair.”
Frau B laughed.
There was a knock on the door and LSB popped his head in.
“Andrew!” she said.
“Hallo!” said LSB, placing a punnet of strawberries on the table.
We filled Frau B in on our friends’ engagement.
“Everyone’s getting married except you two!” she said.
We explained our mutual lack of excitement at the prospect of rings, dresses and event planning.
But I did make one big promise.
“If we do get married,” I said. “You can be my bridesmaid.”