More from my Autobio
Chapter 55 Further Adventures
Shortly after our return from the far East, I ate a overly ripe peach and got really sick with diarrhea, vomiting and a high fever. Just after I became ill, two single German women came to visit and set the scene for a cultural clash between Barbara and me.
For Germans, any guest has definite priority over family. In addition, in Barbara’s family culture if family members got sick, they were tolerated, but it was clearly communicated that they were being a bother, so they’d better hurry up and get well.
In my family culture, however, if you were sick, you were waited on hand and foot and treated like royalty. These contrasting viewpoints had not been much of a problem before now but the arrival of the guests caused Barbara to slip back into German mode, bringing on a conflict.
Barbara was busy being a good German hostess, taking care of every need of our guests, while I, from my point of view, was hovering on the edge of death in the bedroom.
I was unable to eat, wracked with chills, barely able to crawl to the bathroom when the need arose, as it did often and violently. I was thirsty, but my hand was shaking so much from my chills and fever, that before I could bring a glass of water to my mouth, most of the water sloshed out onto the floor.
Every few hours Barbara would come in to poke the pile of blankets and make sure I was still alive underneath them.
During those two or three days I lost so much weight that I looked like a walking skeleton. My wedding ring fell off my emaciated finger and I didn’t even notice it.
When the guests finally left and I got well enough to have a coherent conversation, we had a little chat about priorities. Barbara had been sincerely unaware of neglecting me, and was very sorry. Being a good listener and teachable wife, that never happened again.
Shortly afterwards it was my turn to be the host. My parents wrote to say that they would come to visit in September as Dad was going to Paris to run in a half marathon. He had given up motocross at age sixty-three and had found more attention and admiration in the runners’ circles. He told us that after Paris they’d come to see us for a couple of days.
A couple of days!??? I understood Dad’s love of moving quickly, but to come all that way and stay only a couple of days? We finally convinced them to stay for a week, and it was a good time.
Dad went out running each day on the streets of Ankara and usually ended up with a crowd of little kids tagging along behind him—very few people in Turkey were runners back then.
We took a trip down to the biblical city of Cappadocia to show them some of the sights of Turkey. They were duly impressed and were very glad that they’d come.
Picture Us with Dad in front of our faithful VW. You can see how skinny I was after my illness.