My wife and I are beginning to put things together for a trip to Germany in what is just over a week from now. We have flown overseas a couple of times; the first time to Vienna the week prior to the millenium and then to Germany a couple of years ago, also around the Christmas/New Year holidays.
We're making this trip to visit our older son, whom we haven't seen in over a year. On both of our previous trips we were accompanied by our younger son, who, while not fluent in German as is his brother, still has a basic understanding of it and can converse enough to help us get to where we're going or whatever. This time, however, he cannot make the trip for a variety of reasons — something to do with his life. (Jeeze! Any excuse just to leave poor old mom and dad in the lurch.)
I am, consequently, a bit more apprehensive about this trip as neither my wife nor I have any knowledge of the language. I have tried listening to a German language learning program and have a phrase book, but I haven't managed to get much beyond "Wo ist der toiletten?"
Our older son reassures us that he will be there, "Johann on the spot," when we arrive, and won't let us out of his sight during the ten or so days we'll be spending in Deutschland. Yeah, right.
My wife and I are "getting on in years." both of us having eclipsed the 60-year threshold. By today's standards that's not really old, I guess, but neither is it young. As I've recounted here in previous articles and comments, almost ad nauseam, I have creaky, arthritic knees, and I am now sporting a painfully sore lower back. Add to that the fact that I'm a veritable tub of guts weighing in at over 250 pounds of flaming love! (That would sound better in kilos, wouldn't it? What — 114 kilos or so?) Consequently, according to my ortho guy, I'm putting something like a thousand pounds of pressure on my knees and back with every step I take. Great! My wife has a number of ailments big and small, that I won't go into in respect of her privacy, but suffice to say, we are neither one of us in the pinnacle of health.
Our son, now in his late twenties is small and lithe — he runs. Crap! He runs! I was once told by a kindly drill sergeant during my stint in the "U.S. of army" that if my life depended on my ability to run, I would likely wind up as hamburger. Food for thought. My son weighs in at around 130 pounds. That's pounds, not kilos! I haven't tipped the scale at 130 pounds since I was in the fourth grade. Well, my first born, and his younger brother – also a runner – tend to leave their mother and I in the dust say, on the way to catching a bus or train. They're young and just doesn't understand. We can no longer move like the wind. Now, we only pass it.
A sign of my aging mind: I am packing stupid things like packets of ketchup and mustard, sugar, artificial sweetener, coffee creamer and so on. I even have some mayo and pickle relish — all stolen from area eateries. I've pretty much gone completely wacko. Give me another year or two, and I'll be taking an entire suitcase loaded with toilet paper. For now, I'm going to settle for a dozen or so of those little travel packets of Kleenex. I suppose I'll throw in a few hundred sanitary wipes and a gallon or so of Purel.