Ina Maria Vogel

“You can go in now, he’s awake,” said the nurse. My cynical grumpiness suddenly vanished, and I felt nervous and slightly afraid to enter his room. Although I had rehearsed the moment over and over in my mind during the last couple of days, I felt overwhelmingly unprepared. I carefully opened the door to room no. 8, purposefully trying to avoid immediate eye contact with my father. The room was a simple rectangular one with large floor-to-ceiling windows opposite the door and the bulky hospital bed to the left of the door was facing the windows, allowing for a glimpse of the city from a distance. The streets were busy as usual but just far enough away not to hear their noise. The nurse had already placed the flowers I’d brought on a small glass table in the far-right corner where they would be visible from the bed.

I slowly approached the bed and sat down in the chair next to it before I finally lifted my head to look at his face. Always having been on the heavier side of the scale, he now looked frail and pale, almost defeated. The part of his throat that had been opened was covered with bandages and a piece of cloth; his left arm was attached to an IV for nutrition and medication. He was awake and happy to see me, although I could see the sentimentality in his eyes. A notepad and a pen were lying on top of the thick white duvet, since he was unable to speak after surgery. He started to scribble something onto the notepad and handed it to me: “I am very happy to see you,” the handwriting said.

I felt tears gathering behind my eyelids, like a coffee cup that will run over the moment I blink for a fraction of a second. But because I was so used to muting my emotions around my father, I fought to keep the tears at bay. Subconsciously, I still was not able to allow myself any vulnerability around him. I gave him the drawing my 3-year-old son had made, and tears started to run down both of his cheeks as soon as he laid eyes on it. I didn’t know what to say, the usual chit-chat seemed highly inappropriate and irrelevant. After a minute of awkward silence, I asked him if deep down he knew that we would likely never be able to speak again when he had called me on my cell phone the other day before his surgery. He nodded and grabbed my hand. We looked at each other and both knew that these were our very last moments together and for the first time I gave myself permission to feel the full discomfort of the situation without being numbed by it. I reciprocated his grip on my hand and asked him how he was spending his days here, what his thoughts were, knowing that life is about to come full circle. He took the notepad again and this time it took a while for him to finish his ruminations. When he handed it back to me, it read: “I just lie here and gaze out the window. All I want these days is to rest and reminisce about my life. I know my life was never perfect and I made many mistakes, but I concluded for myself that I had a good life: I have a loving wife, a wonderful daughter, and the sweetest grandson; I would not want to ask for more.”

Finally, the cup of tears in my eyes ran over and my mind felt like a clean slate for a brief moment. Years filled with resentment for a seemingly butchered childhood, years in which I lost all respect for my father and often pitied him for all his weaknesses, suddenly did not feel as heavy anymore and I could see him as the person he was apart from the image I had formed in my mind: insecure, often unhappy with the choices he had made, but caring at heart and wise enough to wrap up what really mattered to him in one sentence. Under tears I heard myself say: “I know that you wish you had been a better father when I was little, that you could turn back time and do things differently if possible. I forgive you and it pains me to see you suffer like this.” He covered my hand with both of his palms now and nodded. We sat in silence for a while, knowing that everything that mattered had been said now and it was a relief to simply share this rare intimate moment in silence.

Knocking at the door and simultaneously opening it, the nurse came in to tell us that my father’s wife had just arrived. I gave him a heartfelt last hug and got up. Staying any longer and running the risk of having to make forced conversation with his wife would have felt sort of anticlimactic, so I made my way to the door. We both knew that this was it. Our tumultuous story had come to an end. I cannot say that it was a happy end, but it was a moment of closure at least. For the first time after a visit with him I closed the door behind me without feeling the mental backpack anymore. I left the grey hospital walls and walked out into the streets. The further I moved from the hospital, the louder grew the noise of the city until, again, it swallowed me whole.

Transadaptation Volume 4 – Material Dissent

January: A Blinding Light and Then, All Darkness – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Opportunist – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

March: A Stranger in my City – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

April: A South African Soundtrack – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Full Circle – Ina Maria Vogel (Germany)

June: La Lluvia en Bogotá – Adriana Uribe (Columbia)

July: Freedom – Krisztina Janosi (Hungary)

August: A Bus Ride – Svetlana Molchanova (Russia)

September: Transcendence – Armine Asryan (Nane Sevunts) (Armenia)

October: Motherhood – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

November: To be announced – (hopefully) Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

December: Open – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 3: Evanescent – Young Adulthood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2022)

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits (clockwise from upper left-hand corner)

Berlin, Germany – Sakuras in the spring – Pani Garmyder (Shutterstock), Berlin, Germany – In the U-Bahn – Werner Spremberg (Shutterstock), Nuremberg, Germany – Old town square – Ark Neyman (Shutterstock), Halle, Germany – The tram – ArTono (Shutterstock), Munich, Germany – Getting of the subway – Nemanja Petronje (Shutterstock), Cuxhaven, Germany – The bus – Bjoern Wylezich (Shutterstock)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.