When I first walked up to the Roths’ residence, I got a sense that they were ready for their big move to Luther Crest – the open garage looked all packed up and organized. Getting into their house through the kitchen door, my first impression confirmed that Sylvia and Jim had worked hard at sorting “everything” including their China and glassware. (Mind you, we would have been ready to do this for and with them, but we can divide and conquer any which way the client prefers!). The Roths had identified items to give to family members or donate – well in advance of their move day which was still about three weeks out.
My task was to pack up the kitchen and make sure we would not be taking things that were still needed prior to the move (yes, they would need bowls to eat the chili that was simmering on the stove and a few sets of plates, silverware, mugs and glasses). Also we were working with Sylvia through questions like: “Will I continue to bake pie?” Why yes, why not?! Take the rolling pin and pie plates!
The “small world” moment came when I was packing up their glasses in the kitchen. Next to the water glasses was a set of miniature wine glasses imprinted: “Weinkerwe Friedelsheim”. No doubt about it: These were from the annual wine fest in the little town of Friedelsheim which is a village in Rhineland-Palatinate near the German Weinstrasse (Wine Route), about 10 miles from where I grew up in Germany. We’re not talking about the ubiquitous commemorative beer steins from the world renowned Munich “Oktoberfest” that attracts masses every year, we’re talking about little wine festival souvenirs from a village that has a population of 1,500.
So I had to ask! And it brought a smile onto Jim’s face. Turns out that he had been stationed in the Palatinate in the mid-1950s (“you know, things were still pretty bad back then – not long after the War”). He sure knew how to pronounce his last name in German – and mine, too, which is quite rare! Jim brought out a souvenir picture book of this beautiful area, showing the little vintner villages between rolling hills covered by rows and rows of vineyards. I thumbed through it and showed him the church my oldest son was baptized in. The couple had traveled back a few times and their kids had an exchange program through school with a family from that little village of Friedelsheim.
Though they had lost contact with these friends, it almost felt like our chance meeting and our sharing about the sights they had seen was like an opportunity to (re)visit. That is one of my favorite aspects of our service to seniors: It’s not simply a matter of planning, sorting and packing. Not a matter of plain logistics. It’s an opportunity to evaluate and remember important milestones and connect with a life story. Yes, even discover common interests or connections. And that’s what small world moments like this are all about.