maisonette across the street from us. She has been there almost twenty years.
Annaliese is German. She is eighty-two. She came to Australia almost fifty years ago. Annaliese and her late husband escaped from the East and went to a remote settlement on the Adelaide to Perth railway line. He worked for the railways and she acted as the local nurse. There were no children - the Nazis saw to that. Her husband died younger than he should have.
Annaliese moved in here with her friend Martin. Martin was five years younger. It was an arrangement of convenience for both of them, nothing more. They led largely separate lives, Annaliese with her church and Martin with his theosophy group. Their beliefs could not have been more different. When Martin became ill Annaliese nursed him until almost the very end. Perhaps it gave her life some added purpose. His death distressed her deeply.
When he had gone she travelled to and from Germany several times. The fall of the Berlin wall allowed her to see her only surviving relative and some old school friends before they died.
In the past couple of years she has fallen several times. Bones have been broken. We have watched her growing frailer. Some months ago she came to me and asked for help with the papers she needed to complete to enter an aged care complex. We made a time and then sat at her little dining table to fill them out.
Annaliese has excellent, if heavily accented, English. That day however she looked up and asked me something in German, not once but three times. After the third time she had done this she was very quiet. She just sat there for some time. I waited. Then she shook her head and said in German,
"Home is there and home is here. You understand?"
Yes Annaliese, I understand. We will come and visit you.