Michaela Merz

Procession of the black Madonna and plum tree

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My friend Tamara told me that her mother has only half a year to live. Her lungs only work 20% and she is facing death by suffocation. No one can help her. Tamara told me all the things, she still wants to do with her mother but she is running out of time. They will not manage to do everything. My head is still spinning from her last sentence: “Why did not we start to do all those things 10 years ago, when she was still full of energy?”

I thought about my parents. What would I like to do with them? Basically nothing special. I want to be with them, talk to them and enjoy the familiarity of being the child. And since most of the time I put things into action, on Saturday morning I took the car and went to visit them. That sounds easier than it is because they live 600km away. Saturday at 12 o’clock lunch time I was having lunch with them, after a drive at an average speed of 160 km per hour.

I asked them what they would like to do. My mother wanted to see the procession of the black Madonna on Saturday evening. My mother is not religious at all but she likes singing and loves history and architecture. Therefore, in the evening we were walking with paper lanterns under starry sky from the church to the Loreta. It felt calming and magic.

And my father? He wanted that we harvest the plum tree. On Sunday morning we carried the ladder outside. My father gave me a basket with a handle and I started. Never before in my life had I harvested plums (cherries, apples, pears yes, but never plums). It was one of the most pleasant mornings of this year. The plums were firm and sweet, the sun was shining through the leaves and from the top of the tree I could see the entire village. I filled many baskets and was pretty optimistic that I would manage to harvest the entire tree.

But suddenly my father said: “Stop and finish now, otherwise your mother cannot process all those fruits.” And he was right; we had a huge pile of sweet plums. I tried to give some of them away in the village. Everyone was happy to see me and wanted to have coffee with me. But nobody wanted plums, since everyone has a plum tree in their garden too. But they gave me tomatoes, onions, garlic and apples.

In the evening we were drinking wine and talked about the past and the future. It was wonderful. One of those weekends one remembers. The beautiful things in life are small and unspectacular. One has to do them and not wait until it is too late.

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