This is a translation of a short sample from a comedy show filmed in January 2011 in Munich. The language is unfortunately inaccessible for most readers (more so as this is in a regional dialect, Bavarian), but what this woman, Monika Gruber, has to say in this four-minute piece, matters a lot. Even those to whom the language is inaccessible may benefit from watching the (quite emotional) video. The translated text is given below the video.
Ah, how often people tell me “I’ll do that later”. I’m always totally amazed, thinking: incredible — how much faith in God they must have. How can they be so sure that there is a “later”?
I would like to tell you a small story about this. Some time ago, we were shooting a comedy sketch, in an old people’s home here in Munich. Actually, in a windowless room in the basement. A huge room, stuffed with pieces of furniture that did not match in any way. Wing chairs, new bedside lockers, Biedermeier cabinets, and in between there was an incredible number of blue bin bags.
As I had some time — and as I am nosy as ever — I took a closer look at these bags. On each of them, there was a tag, ripped out of a checker-lined A5 size writing pad, and on each of these tags, there was a name and a date. The date of death.
I still see the first sticker in front of me as if it had been today. On it was written: “Maria Schreiner, deceased May 18th 2009”. And below, “to be dumped May 2010”. So, in these bags were the last possessions or clothes of deceased inhabitants of the old people’s home that were waiting to be dumped — because the relatives had not called, because there were no relatives, or because the relatives did not give a damn that this person had died.
That sight I will not forget for the rest of my life. The quintessence of an entire long life summed up within a blue bin bag. And on some of these bags, there was lying… a cuddly toy, very worn out and tousled; on others, there was unfinished knitting — and on yet others, there was a picture painted by a child, probably one of the grandchildren.
I was incredibly sad. I went home and that day did not know what to do; walked up and down in my flat, eventually called my friend Mary in her workshop — she is a jewelry designer — and said to her: “Mary, today I am sad. I do not want to live alone. I do not want to die alone. I do not want that all that will be left of me is going to be a blue bin bag, in a windowless room in the basement of an old people’s home. And she said: “you know what: I promise you that, should you die before me, I will adorn your bin bag with lots of Svarovski Crystals.”
I was not that sad anymore after that. But that day, I made the decision that I definitely won’t postpone everything until later in my life. Countries I want to visit — people I would like to phone after a long time, just saying “hey, haven’t seen you in a while, how are you? I would like to meet with you again.” My neighbour — I was over to her place every day when I was a girl; my mother kept on reminding me for some time that I should pay her a visit someday, she’s in her eighties now. And I’ve kept on telling her: “no time, so much to do, later — and later, and later”. Back then, I’ve been over at her place every day. Our mother put a fence round our farmhouse, because I kept on stealing myself away because she made such fabulous cherry cake. And today, I claim not to have the time to visit her….
I won’t postpone so many important things anymore “to be done later”. Maybe, there is no “later”. And I do not want to end up the way it’s described by a sentence I once found in a book: “At the graves of most people, one finds in mourning, deeply veiled, their unlived life.”
I do not want to experience that fate. And I sincerely wish that you may not experience it either. Thank you.