My sister-in-law Renate passed away a week ago. A year older than Peter, she lived in Manhattan until she moved to Boulder, Colorado to be near her daughter and grandchildren.
By any measure, her life was not easy. Born in Germany unable to hear, she fled with her family to Holland and then London where she stayed with her (also deaf) younger brother in a British School for the deaf when her parents and her two hearing siblings went on to New York City. After the war, when she reunited with her family in New York, they sent her away to boarding school.
When I met Renate, she and her husband (who lost his hearing in college due to meningitis) and their two terrific (and hearing) children lived in Manhattan. We saw quite a bit of them either in New York or Boston as their kids grew up. But we weren’t as close as I would have liked. Renate loved Manhattan, especially the museums. She and her husband were quite active and they had many friends in the deaf community. He passed away way too young.
A couple of weeks ago, Renate insisted on leaving the hospital in Boulder after she was treated for pneumonia. She returned to her assisted living home with hospice care. She was “ready to go”. Her daughter Janine and other visitors had wonderful conversations with her during the next several days.
She asked Janine to bring her my book (70-something), re-read it and said, “You know, Judy and I had a lot more in common than I thought.”
It’s comforting to know that we shared more than our love for her brother.