A gaggle of women doing Nordic Walking approaches. They say hello. From the horse riding stables onwards, the asphalt road makes way to gravel. The Bernese Mountain Dog barks like mad. Even that rouses nostalgic feelings. The meadows glow in rich green, but the orchards are still asleep. A few warm days, and the buds will explode into bloom.
It had been just such a glorious April morning, then in 1981, when Father tried to explain in a tear-smothered voice that Mother had died. A neighbour had called him at the joinery to tell him that Maya had collapsed. She'd found her by the letterbox. We've never found out if her heart had given up there or if she'd still crawled that far.
I didn't get it. Only old people died. I felt all numb inside. In the village and at school, everybody wanted to comfort me. What for? I wasn't sad – I thought – just furious. I tried to talk to Father about it, wanted to ask him, what was wrong with me. Every time I tried, he burst into tears. Fortunately, I had Rita.She explained, took the anger and the nightmares away. And later, it was she who explained about boys, bore with my teenage tantrums, taught me about make-up and made sure I didn't forget about school despite raging hormones and queuing lads.
When Mother died, Rita had just completed her secretary training as top of the class. She was supposed to begin a career at a law firm in Liestal after the summer holidays. Her future boss was sympathetic. Of course, she had to look after her family; especially her ten years younger sibling. He told her to get in touch when things started to run more smoothly again. She never did.
One or two years later, she met Marcel. He didn't only sweep her off her feet but Father and me as well. Even today, he represents Price Charming for me; tall, handsome and witty. The only thing I never got about him was his lack of ambition. He could have gone far. But his family and his job at the service station and later at the Wasserfallen Cable Cars ment the world to him.
(To be continued)