1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Auf Wiedersehen, Geliebte Tante Ilse!

I took this picture of a sage plant growing through the deck railing at my mother's house just over a week ago. Sage has been regarded as a valuable plant for thousands of years, and its Latin name Salvia derives from the same root as the word salvation. The Romans called it the "herba sacra" or sacred herb because they considered it able to save them from disease or even death.

This Don Juan has been thriving in my mom's garden for over a decade. It was always one of my dad's favorites. Its color and vigor remind me of Tante Ilse's lovely complexion and exuberance. My mom called me this afternoon and told me that Tante Ilse passed away yesterday in Germany. She lost a long battle with cancer, two years after losing her husband to the same disease.

I remember her as the aunt who never overlooked the tiniest detail in matters of hospitality. When I was a child, we stayed with her and my Uncle Helmut while visiting a host of relatives in northern Germany. Their house did not have central heat at that time, and she insisted on tucking me in the huge featherbed every night with a hot water bottle to warm my feet. She also tolerated my sliding down the thickly carpeted, steep stairway at their house, even after my mother stopped me and warned me not to do it again. She merely winked at me when my mother went outside, as if to say "go ahead, I don't mind, do it again!"

I know she had a difficult life at times, having lived through World War II in Germany, enduring the privations associated with it, as well as its aftermath. She also took care of my widowed grandmother (her mother-in-law), believing it to be her duty and an honor to do so. I seldom saw my uncle without a genuine smile lighting up his face. He knew he was married to a gem of a woman, someone who could thrive despite life's hardships and lend her own seemingly limitless strength to others. I wish I was more like her.

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
And lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
All the days of her life...
Give her the reward she has earned
And let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
(Proverbs 31)


  1. I LOVE the last photo on this post - it looks like a painting.

    My husband is a big fan of hot water bottles too. They always turn off the heat at night in England. I've become addicted to them too as my feet are always cold in the winter.

  2. Hi, Sarah. The picture was taken at a Catholic retreat called San Damiano that we visited the day we went to Rosiclare (earlier post). I took the picture from a trail overlooking the Ohio River. The place was so peaceful and remote, almost deserted, certainly conducive to meditation. Now as for the cold feet, I guess my husband will have to put up with me wearing socks and flannel nightgowns to bed again next winter. No more tropical attire for a while!

  3. What a lovely tribute to your Aunt. She sounds like the kind of person I'd like to be, if I had more patience and humor.
    Try drying some of the white sage and putting a stem in some virgin olive oil. After several weeks, the oil will take on the pungent scent of the sage.

  4. Tante Ilse was one of those rare people who could put anyone at ease. She was also an excellent gardener and cook and loved to do both. I think she started a craze in their neighborhood for iceberg lettuce after she and Uncle visited us and took home some seeds for planting in their garden. Thank you for the tip on the flavored oil. Next time I visit Mom, I'll have to sneak a few snips of the plant when she isn't looking!

  5. Our Aunts can be such treasures and influences! It's so very sad when they depart. I like your story about your Aunt in Germany, Walk2write - she sounds like a wonderful person.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. She was, Annie. I didn't get to spend much time with her, but the time I did was memorable and priceless to me.