Stuttgart Celebration

March, 2014

Berlin -- Three days in Stuttgart, to celebrate Charlotte Rohrberg's 100th birthday on March 1st, has spurred many memories. Some memories are painful because Annette is not here to celebrate. But Oliver and Verity came to Stuttgart to join the festivities with their grandmother and many cousins, aunts, and uncles. I unexpectedly got seated at the head luncheon table, per Charlotte's wish, which assuages things somewhat. I am grateful for being considered part of the family.

The celebration started with an informal concert by the incomparable opera singer Helene Schneiderman, a family friend. She started with Brahms, followed by Mendelssohn, then Puccini, and finished with Mahler. Before the Mahler she sang Holländer's wistful song from Der Blaue Engel:

Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss, auf Liebe eingestellt, denn das ist meine Welt, und sonst gar nichts. The knees buckle.

While fresh in memory, I'll list the main celebrants: Christine & Joe, Ulrike & Martin, Uta & Martin, Klaus, Diane (from England), Reinhart, Ursel, Hans, Marianna, Heide, Bärbel, Annette S. & Nika, Hans-Peter & Freundin, Helene & Mann, and a few Augustinum neighbors.

So that the event would not be overwhelming, the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren ate separately and were hidden until after lunch. Then they sang and appeared one by one: Andrea, Franziska, Tobias, Jan, Timo, Oliver, Verity, Sarah, Leah. Some grandchildren had spouses and children along. It was superbly organized.

It is a proud and accomplished family. I counted three medical doctors, two physicists, one architect, several engineers and the like, one geologist, one social worker, a couple of therapists, a writer, two government administrators, one Galeristin, and a Politologe.

Oliver and I flew in from the States early and spend the day before the birthday walking where Annette and I had walked in the fall of 1977: through Rosenstein garden (it was the year of the Stuttgart Bundesgartenschau), the Wilhelma Zoo, and the great Wilhelma greenhouses. In protected areas along the outdoor paths, blooming forsythia signaled the coming of spring, and a new beginning.