There is never a Stunde Null

View from my bedroom window, May 30, 2021.


The expression “Stunde Null” (zero hour) was most frequently used with reference to midnight on May 8, 1945, the point at which the Nazi regime collapsed completely. The idea was that now Germany would be a blank slate to write on as it was rebuilt.

We finished about this time, a week ago. There was a bit of overhang (HL developed a sudden affection for a rhubarb plant — a long story) but I walked out of the house this afternoon a week ago and I haven’t been back. I’m not sure if it’s over for dad, but it’s over for me. Maybe.

This move was a bit like a death — insofar as the cleanout was total, and of course the house will be destroyed, so we can’t go back. I took three filled 26-foot vans to the new place. HL took countless pickup trucks and trailers full of stuff. We donated two full 26-foot fans of furniture (dad had 8 living room sets stored in the house) and other stuff. We sold two backhoes, another fanning machine, a joiner, a planer, a fur coat (? not sure where it came from) and a lot of other stuff I have receipts for (but no idea what it is — I have a $15 receipt for a case of “butt splices and other electrical supplies” but I would not recognize a butt splice if one bit me on the well, you know). The appliances that still have value are in my new garage, to be resold when I have a chance. I made four trips to the homeless shelter / community closet with my Jetta stuffed full of “still good” clothing each time. (Some of this was stuff I had set out for donation in my previous attempt to de-clutter the house, but that dad apparently couldn’t let go of.) We filled two forty-yard trash dumpsters and four scrap-metal dumpsters of the same size. I spent another two days ferrying stuff that we thought too fragile to put in the hands of movers, and stuff that wasn’t ready to go when the movers were there (we did two separate days). It took five men and a woman five full days, with HL operating a tractor as support, to get everything out of the outbuildings.

Since then I’ve been operating at about 30 percent. A lot of it was physical exhaustion that is finally abating with a week of three-four extra hours of sleep per day and a lot of lying around reading or staring into space when I’ve been awake. Probably more of it than I realize is emotional exhaustion. I have so many open questions. This excellent post by a fellow Armitage fan outlines one of them: do I even remember how to take care of myself? And just as she mentions there, advice isn’t really called for until it’s — well — actually called for.

There is no present without a past, of course, and even when it seems like I’m starting fresh, I’m not. (Wherever you go, there you are, as Horace is so often translated.) I’ve gotta figure out how to live now, and what happens next. No looking back, or at least not more than the things we were compelled to save require of us. The birds’ nest above housed robins for two springs, until dad decided to chop down all the trees that sheltered it, and they didn’t come back. No zero hour. But it’s hard to see the past, either.

~ by Servetus on June 7, 2021.

24 Responses to “There is never a Stunde Null”

  1. We’re at a similar point. We are about to sell the house. The cellar is empty, but most of my parents’ furniture is still there. We will donate whatever the “Sozialkaufhaus” will take. Someone will pick-up my kitchen on Saturday. It still feels unreal.
    I hope you can take the time you need and find ways to take care of yourself.


    • Indeed. One of the biggest struggles for us the last few weeks has been the cabinets in the house’s kitchen, which my father built for my mother. They could have been easily removed but we have nowhere to go with them, and because they were custom-built and not modular, the home upcycling groups turned them down. I can’t believe that a bulldozer is going to crush them — but so it is. And I won’t ever cook there again.

      Thanks for the good wishes. I hope you are surviving, as well.


  2. In absence of anything practical or helpful to say – just a hug and best wishes for some rest. If “closure” wasn’t such an overused term, I’d wish you that, too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah — “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” And yet we live on. Thanks for the support!


  3. Thinking of you brought me here today. I guess I could write a lot of things that are going on for me right now … but I think “I feel you” just might be enough.


    • Thanks. Feel free to unload — a lot of my RL friends are going through this just now, too. It seems like given the natural course of things, we should know better how to deal with this stuff. I hope your life gets easier, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ach … it’s lots of little things that are piling up at the moment …
        The hubby had some surgery, which at least went well, but still needs to fully recover and that takes time.
        Two of the dogs are very old now (15 + 13) and more or less severely sick.
        The paid-work I have to do is robbing me of the energy I would need for the unpaid creative work I’d like to do instead.
        We’ve just returned from our third house-searching-trip in Andalucia and still nothing … all in all we’ve viewed around 40 houses now :-/ We had a sort of silver lining, but it turned out a fata morgana. We HAVE to move in a year from now and the next trip is scheduled for September (because of the dogsitter we need, we just can’t go whenever we like).
        I felt great in Andalucia – away from work and the dogs – and now back home for three weeks I feel the burnout coming back and completely exhausted. I even have a new word for it: zerschöpft. Sigh. I guess it will get easier, but just thinking of moving (and everything that’s involved) makes me cringe right now. That our spanish course has been cancelled mid-term in December due to Covid-measures isn’t helpful either.


  4. I understand you…
    After 20 years living in rented houses, in June/2019 I came to live with my father in his own house because he was 80 years old and was no longer doing well on his own.
    He was completely healthy, however God wanted him with Himself and took him suddenly in December of that year.
    After that my life was a whole year of unproductive days, without working, and just wanting to leave here and never come back to this house that reminds me so much of Dad every day…
    I finally decided to buy my own apartment and put Dad’s house up for sale.
    Today, thank God, exactly 2 years later, I’m leaving this house in June/2021 and I’m preparing myself emotionally to start getting rid of Dad’s things…
    I feel it won’t be easy, but I look ahead and see myself living somewhere else, starting over for the fourth time and filling myself with hope again, while I hope that, over the years, this longing I feel for him will dissipate… .
    Thank you for sharing your experience ❤️


    • If your experience parallels mine it will be simultaneously horrible and weirdly interesting — and I have a lot of sympathy for your decision. I do think there’s a sense in which, if we’re not living with the material remains of the past, we’re not forced to think about it all the time. You may always miss him, though. I wish there was some better thing to do say or do. Thanks for sharing YOUR experience.


  5. It”s no surprise that you are exhausted mentally and physically. I wish you good rest and all the very best with this new stage of your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Not much I can say but will be keeping you in my thoughts during this new path in your life. I do get the rhubarb plant. Mine is a chive plant that is a part from my mom that was a part of her mom’s. I plan to give my sons each a part and move it with me each time I move. It is at my second home.


    • It’s not that I don’t get it, but our rhubarb came from my grandparents’ farm and it’s still there in the original. So he was moving it back to the mother plant, I guess. It totally makes sense if it’s something that needs to be perpetuated.


  7. I think about you often. Transitioning the hell out of life right now as you move on to a new nest. You have already accomplished so much in dealing with an avalanche of stuff to be gotten rid off. Well done! Love, Kathy


    • I’m grateful. As I pick up the pieces of my life, hopefully I can pick up the pieces of friendships that I’ve neglected.


  8. Reading this makes me wish I could store up energy, like a battery pack, to be used in the future when my siblings and I are faced with the curation of my parents retirement home. The exhausting decisions about what should be kept (nothing, some siblings will say-everything, others will say) and who should take the responsibility of items that hold memories and lives through no fault of their own. I am one who feels connected to things that decorated my life, both useful and not. It is difficult to trail around behind siblings who can’t fill the dumpster fast enough. Reading your story also makes me think about what I’m leaving for my children to clean up behind me. I want to make it simple for them. I don’t want them to wonder what to do with all this s**t that mom thought someone would care about. I want them to be able to assign meaning in their own personal way after I’m gone-not feel they need to live with all sorts of detritus hanging around their necks like dead seabirds I can no longer carry. I remind myself to recycle, to give away, to fight the post-Depression era scrabbling to save every scrap of everything that may someday be useful I was raised with.
    I love that you’re napping every day. I love the slower pace of your words, as I hear them. It’s like I can hear you breathing again.


    • This comment should get its own post. I was forced to think about that constantly for six weeks and now I kind of don’t want to think about it anymore, but I promised myself I wouldn’t bury the theme again.

      Thanks for the perception — I feel like I’ve lost all my words. But maybe it’ll come back again.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s been so much work, not just physcial, also emotional for you. Thinking of you often and hoping you can find some sort of equilibrium again. ((Hugs))


  10. You have been on my mind lately. I knew you were going through this, but was feeling a melancholy and sadness myself, and knew if I read about your move it would stab me in the heart (it did). Every summer I still have moments where I remember my childhood home with a painful longing, and I am amazed that certain feelings surface at the strangest times. When you feel “up to it” email me to my RL name email address. Thinking of you, and praying for you. (((Hugs)))


    • I’ve been thinking about you, too, hoping I can resume some friendships again. I think the longing for home won’t go away with me, either. I never know what to say when someone asks me how the new house is. I mean — it’s great that I was able to move into a house right now. I can’t bring myself to be thrilled about it. It’s a house.


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