"Three things: First, you are so incredibly animal loving! Your heart is huge. Second I am very impressed by your strength. The things you have been putting up with in your life are more than most people could have taken. Last but not least you are a terrific baker. These cookies taste amazing."
How did she react?
While she listened her eye got wet. Then she said, "thank you, that is so nice of you!, and gave me a hug.
How did I feel?
My mom loves cats. Ever since I was six there have been at least two four legged friends living with us. When she found a post on craigslist offering a three legged cat she could not resist. Yesterday we went to pick up that cat from Hannelore. Initially Hannelore had found Minou- our new cats name- outside, her front paw injured. She took her to the vet, got the paw amputated and started feeding her since Minou could not hunt anymore. But her staying with Hannelore was impossible, too, for the lady owns a hound dog. That's how I ended up in Hannelore's living room, welcoming a new cat and trying Hannelore's Christmas cookies. They were the best I have tasted all season:
This woman is not just an angel for animals she is also one of the strongest people I have ever met. Eleven years ago her son died in an accident. I cannot think of anything worse than burying one's own child. Shortly after her second son got diagnosed with Schizophrenia and lost his job. Yet she is still married to her husband -- they just had their golden wedding anniversary --, she is still on good terms with her third son and she still has enough love to rescue animals. She told me, "The moments of total despair make you realize one thing: That you cling to life. No matter how many times you feel like you cannot go on no more, or how many times you think, "This is it." There is always, always a way." I nodded.
Some candidates radiate with light on life's stage. They celebrate their gifts. When I walk up to these people and compliment them they laugh, we hug and it's like we are dancing to their personal soundtrack. A one minute party. I love these moments.
Other candidates stay behind the stage. No one sees them and no one applauds. They walk in the dark, but inside they glisten. Hannelore was the latter. I don't think she knows what an amazing person she is. She made me want to gather a crowd so we could all give her standing ovations. Because each step she takes proves her bravery, her resilience and her strength. Hats off, Hannelore, and I am not putting that one on again. I am just standing here, looking at you and thinking, you are incredible.