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In memory of a dear friend

Today I had planned for a little blog post all about our upcoming holiday to China next week. More specifics about the places we will visit, about my new camera equipment and of course all the food I am looking forward to. But all changed yesterday morning.

Yesterday (saturday) morning, early morning we received a terrible message from my wife’s best friend in China. Usually I need a long time on weekends to wake up and get out of bed but not yesterday. The message was along the lines “Don’t come to visit. Y. had an accident, he is dead.” Nothing more, just this and it was enough to wake me up in an instant.

You see we had planned to visit our good friends in Wuhan. The very same friends we had met last summer in Finland and who also visited us last year in Xi’an. It was supposed to be a great experience with all the places to see in Wuhan, all the food and of course spending time with those wonderful friends. But now it is all different. Those friends I have known for the past nine years and my wife R. even longer as they all started their university life at the same time in Finland and lived together for some time. Her best friend got to know a guy making a living with a Chinese restaurant in that small town and married him later. Together they had a little girl just few years later. Just some months ago they moved back to Wuhan for which they had planned for such long time and were looking forward to it and now this terrible death happened.

I don’t know the exact specifics but he went out with his friends and never returned. On his way back he fell asleep in his friend’s car and never woke up. His wife got in the early morning a call from a hospital to come immediately but it was already too late. He died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage and never realized what his happening to him. He could never say one last goodbye to his wife and his little daughter. He was just 35 years old and all ended just like that.

Everything just feels so unreal right now. I can still see him in my memories smiling, keeping everything under control and helping. He always helped out everyone without any hesitation. In case we would have ever needed anything, they would have given it. And now his wife and daughter will need our help. We will still go to Wuhan but not for fun. This time it will be to help a friend in need and to be just there for her. I won’t be of much use in this case but I will try my best together with Nathan to cheer up the little daughter.

Now there is just pain and we tried to bury it all under the work we have before this trip but it still surfaces in crashing waves.

All I have right now for my friend is this:

“In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound forever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farewell!”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A: “Annals of the Kings and Rulers”


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Terrible start of 2019

Remember my little post about the Terrible November? It was really a messed up month but thing got better towards the end of the year. However luck is apparently not on our side as new troubles arrived just few weeks into 2019. The only good thing was that these thing did not occur so bunched up as it was in November were one week was just one bad day after another.

In mid January my mother got an injury on her nose checked which did not heal for the past year. They took a sample and cut a layer of skin away in order to let everything heal properly. Shortly after that check up and little surgery she got a call to come back to the doctor. Turns out she got skin cancer and they needed to take another sample and cut yet again another layer of skin away. This was not the first skin cancer rodeo for my mother as she had malignant melanoma when I was 8-9 years old. She spent a several weeks in hospital and got everything removed successfully. Ever since then she had regular check ups but somehow that one spot on her nose was never discovered until now. Thankfully everything turned out well as the one on her nose turned out to be non-melanoma skin cancer in a very early stage. Because of that they were able to remove everything already during the second small surgery.

Mom and dad last year at Nathalie’s baptism

Now we come to February and all seemed well for a long time. In fact everything went way too smooth as first of all my mother was fine again, then my father’s blood values were improving drastically and we even had a week of something like holidays during the Chinese New Year. But towards the end of the month all went downhill again. My wife got a call from her mother that Granny in China got salivary gland tumor and that they could do nothing about it as she is too weak for a surgery. She is same age as my father (turning 78 this year) but she looks about 15 years older and has never done anything for her health. This means that she is already exhausted walking 50m from a bus station to a restaurant while my father bicycles each summer several thousand kilometres. As this tumor was just discovered we are not sure yet how everything will develope from her on. MIL already said that she won’t come this summer to help us with the kids and household unlike the past years. Now my wife and I can not handle the business and the kids at the same time so FIL already agreed to come instead of his wife.

But there is still a slight chance that things might turn out a bit better for granny. The check ups she had a first were done with a CT-Scan and the doctor said immediately that it looks very dire. However few days later MIL took her mother to another doctor for a MRI-Scan and there the doctor said that they can see nothing indicating a tumor, just that one lymph node is enlarged. Next week they will perform a biopsy to make sure what exactly is going on so we really really hope for the best.

Just Nathan feeding a bunny as I don’t know what picture to put here

I must say it would be not the first time doctors in China are exaggerating a bit. Few years back I had a MRI-Scan so the “bone breaker” could pinpoint the problems I had with my neck and lower back (they did wonders during those few sessions as I never had the troubles reappear again). However at the hospital were the MRI-Scan took place they told me that I have some kidney issues. Later at the “bone breaker” they told us that we do not need to worry as that hospital is specialized on treating kidney troubles and most likely only want to earn some extra money for performing more tests on me. In Germany I got later a small check up and everything was fine. Now Granny had last year blood in her urine and the doctor at the hospital said that she has definitely bladder cancer. We got all worked up about it and later another doctor told her that she just had a bladder infection. So through these two example you might understand why we still have some hope when it comes to granny and that it is nothing too serious right now. We have a new month now so perhaps luck is on our side again?

Did you have any experience that a doctor gave you the wrong diagnosis?

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New Apartment IV

It has been a while since I wrote last time about the new apartment in China. It has been too long as over half-year passed by already. Back then I had the news that MIL will move into the new apartment alone and FIL would stay behind the old place and have his peace from his wife. This actually did not change thus far and that is something special as my in-laws are changing their plans as often as other people change their clothes.

Renovating the apartment has finally started and MIL might be able to move in by May/ June.  It took ages for them to decide how the apartment should look like, which materials to use and what furniture to purchase but after nearly a year of discussion and useless ideas they settled on something. Now I have no clue at all how it will look like but something has been bothering me a lot. Apparently renovating that 90m²/ ~970ft² apartment (actually more like 80m² as in China there is some stupidity going on that you purchase part of the staircase/ floor outside the apartment) takes over three whole months! How on earth can this be possible? Sure the apartment is just a shell when they purchased it without any floor, just concrete wall and windows. But how can this take that long?

I know my way around renovating apartments as we turned this…

Here in Germany when you build a house most companies guarantee that the entire house is complete after 3 months including everything inside according to your wishes. So how can just a small apartment take that long in China. Besides taking way too long it also costs pretty much the same as it would in Germany. For example in 2017 I renovated a 70m² apartment together with my dad in just four weeks so how can it be that professionals need three times as long? In my opinion something fishy is going on as it seems to be the norm in China that it takes so many months and worst they say the apartment needs to “air” for a couple of months so all the fumes are more or less gone by then.  I am no expert but I have renovated enough apartments by now that I know that there is something very wrong and that they just want to charge more for taking that long.

into something bit better looking

I would love to show some pictures of the current progress but sadly my in-laws never took any pictures or videos. Most likely the next pictures of that apartment will be in April when we visit it ourselves. I do wonder how long it will take for MIL to ruin the apartment as three months each year in our apartment are enough to destroy or damage rather much. Probably FIL will go there very often to clean up the mess due to his OCD but I hope it won’t be that often as I wish for him to get some rest and perhaps his hairs might even grow back with less stress around the household.

FIL with hairs on his head before the horrors of living with his wife started

What are your experiences on how long it takes to renovate an apartment?

Be sure to follow me also on Facebook and on Twitter as I will post there occasionally pictures which do not find their way into my blog posts. Furthermore there is also my Instagram account in which from time to time some pictures and short videos might pop up.