Perhaps, as you grow older, you start thinking a little more about how life was when you were small?
I was one of two children of a middle-class family. My father was a tenured officer at the German Railway and my mother was a teacher who, due to having children, no longer worked in her job. To this day, I still enjoy meeting my sister who is five years younger than I.
I forgot most of the things that happened during my childhood, but a few memories remained with me through my entire life. And they are still quite vivid.
One of these memories is about washing your hands. And about our relationship with water.
Our parents took cleanliness very seriously. Which meant that we had to wash our hands as often as possible. Here is how we did it: turn on the tub, wet your hands, use some soap, rub vigorously, use more soap, rub vigorously… as long as necessary, and then, finally, turn off the tub.
On weekends, we often went to Thannhausen (in Swabia) and met our grandparents on mother’s side, as well as the families of my mother’s sisters. We spent much time in the open. And I often returned to the grandparents‘ flat looking quite dirty. So, again, I had to wash my hands.
Which I did. Once, my grandfather saw me wash my hands. He scolded me because – as was normal for me from at home – I never turned the tub off during the entire procedure. He explained to me that water is a valuable commodity in our lives and that you should never waste it.
I immediately agreed with him and I believe that this short episode had a huge impact on my life. And if I see today how, in the public swimming pool, some grown-up men activate the shower and then chat with someone in the ante-room, I do not find this so great.
Thinking of Thannhausen, Augsburg and those times, I remember many other things that were not so great.
(Translated by EG)