"I just saw you dancing. You were amazing."
How did she react?
She burst out into laughter. She cheered. Then she held my arm: "Great! Wonderful! And can I tell you how old I am?"
"I am 86!"
"Born in Kölle (Cologne)!"
"And my health is A1!"
"Well, I am glad! I'll drink to that."
How did I feel?
Käthe was alive. We met at Merowinger Straßenfest, Cologne's southern part of town's block party. I was walking down the street, watching kids play in the sun, enjoying the scent of fresh waffles and finding treasures at the flea market. Suddenly I spotted her. She stood at a table with a friend and her glass. Behind her a loudspeaker boosted Schlager music. And Käthe- started dancing. By herself. Snipping her fingers and tilting her hips she swinged, a broad smile occupying her face. I passed her, gave her a thumbs up and we both laughed. Seconds later I realized she was the perfect candidate. I returned and complimented her. She was in the ultimate Sunday mood, cheering every other moment, crying "Hör ma! Isch werd jeknipst!"* when I asked her if I could take her picture. Suddenly she fell quiet. For a moment there we were silent. Then she asked: "But can I raise my glass on the picture?"
I grinned. "Sure you can!" -... And the sunshine was back on.
We didn't chat for long but the encounter was great.
Before I left I congratulated her on her good health and wished her all the very best: "You stay safe and live another ton of years."
"Rosa, Rosa, of course I will! There's no doubt whatsoever."
*"Listen up! She'll take my photograph!" with a Cologne accent