Michaela Merz

Being invisible

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My mother is a spry lady with more than 40 years of professional experience as a maths teacher. She is not frightened, knows how to get her way, is clever and pragmatic. We had already celebrated her 70th birthday. She told me what it means to reach that age and how values, perception, horizons and also the body are changing.

For me she seems more relaxed than before but otherwise I did not note any big changes. She is like she always was, inquisitive, socially competent, helpful and diligent.

She told me that she has the feeling of becoming invisible. Or more that her age makes her invisible for her environment. Recently when I visited her and we went for a walk together she had to go the authorities to clarify inconsistencies regarding the property tax. I just went with her, it should not take long.

My mother explained the very young clerk clearly and structured what her request is about and asked her to look into the payment. The clerk looked at the monitor of her computer for several minutes and then turned to ME with a question. Since I knew the answer, I answered her and asked my mum whether it is correct. My mum agreed and the clerk continued to search and came back with the next question and again it was directed to me, as if my mum did not exist. I was slightly irritated, especially because I did not know the answer and my mother helped me out with the answer. Finally the clerk explained to me what she saw in her file and I could see where the misunderstanding was. The entire time the communication was between me and the clerk, as if my mum was deaf, demented or just invisible. It was a very awkward situation for me but quasi in place of my mother. My mother however did not seem to mind. She seemed to watch everything with relaxed amusement.

I was relieved when we left the authority. Now it was clear what my mother had meant with being invisible!! Guys, be careful, it is not the age, sex, nationality or belonging to whatever group which is condition for stupidity or simple-mindedness. It has to be tested for everyone individually!!

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