Last week I was fortunate enough to attend Oktoberfest in Munich with the German-side of my family. What an adventure it was, in more ways than one. I had anticipated volumes of beer, singing, dancing, many laughs and a headache for sure, but I hadn’t envisaged seeing and experiencing one of the most wonderful examples of care in the community I have seen.
Our travels took us to Adelshofen, in the outskirts of Munich (Bavaria) and to the home of my sisters-in-law’s parents. In that region, I am led to believe that people rent property until they have saved enough to buy a plot of land and build their forever home. This they did, then they went one step further – they built another. A home to ‘downsize’ into and prepare, very sensibly, for their own retirement.
It’s what they have done with their ‘main house’ that surprised and delighted me. Today, this wonderful couple run a day-care centre from the home their children grew-up in. We were privileged to be taken for a tour. The atmosphere was relaxed, calm and inviting. It was lunchtime and a group of gents sat playing cards whilst others were finishing their meals and sat together round a table. Some chatting, some quiet and pensive; perhaps musing at the troop of Brits parading round them. Some clearly needed more condition-led care than others and the carers, inconspicuous in their presence, humbly went about their duties. It was wonderful to see where our relatives grew-up and as we were exploring the upstairs, we heard Sandra’s (sister-in-law) mother strike up a song and as if that wasn’t enough, she played a guitar too. We looked over the balcony to see and hear elderly people smiling and singing as best they could what I can assume is a well-known song in Bavaria. There was such a warmth, such a kindness surrounding the house and it truly humbled us all.
How special are these people to turn their home into a home for others? A place where perhaps lonely, elderly or poorly people can gather for the day while their family members go to work. It got better, there’s a fleet of cars outside which collects and returns these people at the beginning and the end of the day. I know we have domiciliary services and day centres in the UK and I know we have many wonderful people doing wonderful things – the uniqueness here I think is that this is a family extending to welcome others into their home and the love that must have been there for so many years simply shone.
There’s a saying that ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ well, we met the grand-parents too and I can confirm that for this family that is certainly true. What a beautiful couple. Despite them not speaking English and us not Bavarian, with the help of other family members we were able to understand that Grandma suffered a stroke last year but now, the couple walk together for an hour a day to recuperate. The care Grandpa has for Grandma was abundantly clear, and that care runs through their family. From Grandpa, through to the parents and down to Sandra, her twin sister Simone and their brother Florian who cared for, fed, organised and led our group through the most wonderful Bavarian experience, I thank you all, we all do. The care and attention they showed us with wonderful meals and a tour of their homes and village was truly touching.
I am in awe of these wonderful people and believe we could all take a leaf out of their book, even if in some small way we can give a little of our own time and open our own doors to help people in our own community. Perhaps Bavaria should be called Bavaricare!
If you would like to find out more about this wonderful community, visit their website here.
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