I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Thirty years ago the Berlin Wall fell

Yesterday was the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. That just astounds me, as I remember well where I was when it happened. Reagan was president, and I watched the news with real amazement that the Wall, which was erected in 1961, had fallen.

I was a young wife, pregnant in 1961, and had no interest in international politics. I knew little about why the Berlin Wall was built (you can learn everything you want to know from the Wikipedia link). In November 1961 I gave birth to my first son, Christopher, and nothing existed in my life after that except caring for the tiny infant.

But that was not the case in 1989. I was single and living in Boulder, Colorado, when the Wall fell. It was all over the news, and I watched with interest as I learned how it happened. Did you know it was by accident? Apparently in an effort to reduce tensions, a series of orders were issued to the German police, but nothing was very clear. Gunter Schabowski, the East German party boss, read the pronouncement.
Schabowski read out loud the note he had been given. A reporter, ANSA's Riccardo Ehrman, asked when the regulations would take effect. After a few seconds' hesitation, Schabowski replied, "As far as I know, it takes effect immediately, without delay." After further questions from journalists, he confirmed that the regulations included the border crossings through the Wall into West Berlin.
Well, that was the beginning. People flooded out of East Germany and were embraced by West Germans and welcomed with champagne and flowers. It was late on the night of November 9 when few people in Berlin, both east and west, were swept into history. The evening of 9 November 1989 is known as the night the Wall came down.

Thirty years have passed since that night, and frankly, I was surprised to mark that so many years of my life are now behind me and never to return. Why, people who were born that night are now thirty years old! Their own youth is beginning to fade. There is nothing to make one feel more ancient than to consider that their children are middle-aged. My son, had he lived, would now be in his late fifties.

I was living in Boulder in 1989 and spending much time with a dear friend who was dying of breast cancer. She was my age, and although she lived in Denver and I lived in Boulder, I would drive to her home two or three times a week. And this was by someone who hardly ever drove such distances, even in those days. I needed to be with Marty, and she could no longer travel. We discussed the Berlin Wall, and she said she was so happy to have lived long enough to see it fall. She was very political and one of the reasons that I became more so.

My friend was one of those women whose diagnosis to death was quite short, just a few months from start to finish, less than a year. When I think of how many wonderful women have had their lives cut short by this dreadful disease, it saddens me. But then again, I wonder if I will maybe live long enough to celebrate the day when that will all change. Probably not, but there is a chance. And it will happen one day. Nobody expected that the Berlin Wall would just disappear overnight. Miracles happen all the time. After all, I have learned to love all those moments of my life that have come and gone: the good, the bad, the indifferent. Life sure looks good from here.

What happens thirty years from now will not be part of my own history. It would mean I lived to be a centenarian. I'm figuring that if I make it into my eighties, that will be unexpected, since my mother and father both didn't make it out of their sixties. I don't have what you might call good genetic makeup. Nevertheless, if I were to die today, or tomorrow, I would not feel that it was a premature death: I've pretty much exhausted my bucket list and have no regrets on a life lived fully.

Most of my friends are also in their seventies, and we enjoy each other's company and enjoy our twilight years together. My dear partner is the same age as me, although born a few months earlier and he dips his toes into the upcoming birthdays to let me know that the water is just fine, come on in.

Where does the time go? Now I'm looking at the day ahead, with little planned for the day, just the usual coffee shop visit. Since I missed yesterday's walk, I'll look for a way to get the juices flowing in the old bod, but other than that, I've got nothing on the calendar for the day. I am just now finishing up my Sunday morning task, this post, and I notice I've spent longer than usual writing it.

I had to read all about the Berlin Wall, and that took up some time, but now my tea is gone, my dear partner is still sleeping next to me, and it's now time to bid farewell to my readers and get on with the day. I do hope that the coming week will bring something delightful into your life. Please don't forget to count your many blessings, and I will also. Be well until then.


jo(e) said...

I was born in 1961, and I heard about the Berlin Wall all my life. I well remember when it came down. It feels like just the other day, although I had two small kids at the time, and they are all grown up now.

gigi-hawaii said...

I was born in January 1946, one of the early baby boomers following the war. I didn't realize that 30 years have elapsed since the Berlin wall was taken down. I hope by now that the East Germans have assimilated with the West Germans and that all is well for everybody.

Red said...

The fall of the Berlin wall is an event that will always stick with me. I was watching it on TV and waiting for the big guns...tanks to show up and it would all be over. The next morning I couldn't find a news cast fast enough to see what was going on. One of my former students was there. He shows his pictures every year. He has a photo of himself getting one of the bricks from the wall and that brick is still in his house. Time does move quickly. As an 80 year old I know that I won't be here much longer.

Far Side of Fifty said...

44 years ago was the wreck of The Edmond Fitzgerald...
Somewhere I have a photo of one of our summer exchange students at the wall when it came down...she was from Germany...I should look for it!
Hope you have a good week!

Anonymous said...

Actually, George h.w. Bush was president by then.

Rian said...

In 1961 when the Berlin wall went up, I was 16 years old getting ready to start high school in New Orleans. I remember hearing the talk about the wall. In 1989 when the wall came down, I was 44 with 3 teenagers keeping me very busy. But how we rejoiced when the wall went down!

William Kendall said...

I was old enough that November that it made a big impression on me.

The Furry Gnome said...

I remember 1989. I was so amazed and saw it as something positive in our troubled world.

Marie Smith said...

We have friends who moved to Canada from Berlin fifty-five years ago, looking for a life away from the shadow of the wall. I know how I felt when the wall came down. I can only imagine what it was like for them to see their home unified after all those years.

Linda Reeder said...

It's after 1:00 AM now as I finally get to your Sunday morning post. I just posted about my day. Many days I feel old, but not today. Tom and I are still mixing it up with the young folks, even if you know some of them were't even born when the wall fell. I was surprised at the "30 years" too.

Tabor said...

It seems so many things having to do with wars are lucky accidents! That is scary.

Arkansas Patti said...

Thirty years seems like an impossible number but to the Germans it must seem a glorious number. I do remember the reports of all those who tried to cross and were killed. It was exciting to realize the city would again be joined and family members could once again visit with out fear. We can be amazing people and accomplish wonderful things when we put our minds to it.

nothoughtsnoprayersnonothing said...

Another one of those days that we must remember. There seem to be so many events in the world that we don't want to think about. But it is when we don't think about them that let horrible things occur again. We must be vigil.
I too will probably not be around to see how some of the unsettling events of today get resolved. Perhaps that is fortunate.

I found your blog on a blog that I follow.

Rita said...

My folks went to Europe for their 40th wedding anniversary and were in Germany after the wall had been broken down. My dad (who never broke rules) snuck up to the rubble and searched until he found a small hunk of cement that was flat on one side with some blue paint on it. He said it was very difficult to find a piece of the outside of the wall. I guess I didn't realize there had been graffiti on it. Anyways, he brought it home and gave it to me. I still have it...along with a small, hand-carved wooden troll from our ancestral Motherland (Sweden). His dad had come over from Sweden and grandpa loved to tease me about my tomtegubbe (the troll dolls that were so popular when I was a kid--and I still have those, too). So having a hand carved tomtegubbe from Sweden means a lot to me. A morning for memories. :)

Buz said...

Ha! Of course you'll make it into your eighties! Quetita was almost 94; I'm betting hers are the genes you share. You should easily outlive your three youngest siblings (whose lifestyles resemble those of Mom and Dad), and 100 isn't really that far off, considering how fast the years fly by. You'll be a centenarian before you know it.

Glenda Beall said...

I was in college when the wall came down and we had no TV in our room so I didn't see much of it, but later saw it on the news. I was all caught up in my life and paid little attention to the outside world at the time.
I used to list all the wonderful things that my parents saw in their lives, but lately I have been thinking of what has happened in my life. All so fast and furious, and I already feel left behind.

Galen Pearl said...

I was living in Paris when the Berlin Wall fell. There was some fear that the reunification of Germany would reignite anti-semitism. And in fact the first evidence of that was the desecration of several Jewish cemeteries within a few days after the wall came down, but not in Germany -- in France!

Anonymous said...

My son was living in Berlin that year and that wall coming down was something he will never forget. He brought me a small piece of it. A piece of history in a shiny little chunk of concrete.