October 25, 1912 - September 30, 2018 By Jürgen Schäfer Delivered at the Drumheller Cemetery at Hilda’s funeral on Thursday, October 25, 2018 Here and today, on Hilda’s 106th birthday, the circle of a long and quite restless life closes. This life began exactly today 106 years ago, it was the year 1912. In Germany still reigned the emperor, the people did not suspect anything yet of future events such as the assassination of Sarajevo and the outbreak of World War I. The most spectacular event of the year was the sinking of the Titanic. Hilda was born as the second child in the family of a carpenter, 8 more siblings should follow. The outbreak of the First World War, the economically difficult time afterwards and the size of the family in such times, meant that Hilda had to grow up in extremely poor circumstances. Despite tireless hard work, the father could barely feed the family of 13. That’s why Hilda did not spend part of her school time at home, but with her grandmother in the country. Granny did run her own small farm and at least the food situation was better than in the city. Her father was in his sixties when he reached the end of his physical strength, he died shortly after the end of World War II. Perhaps did these experiences contribute to the development of the desire to break out of these living conditions one day? After completing elementary school, Hilda initially worked as a porcelain seller in a prestigious porcelain business in Paderborn. In 1930 at the age of 18 she began training as a nurse, away from her family in the Rhineland. After the training, she was now 24 years old, she moved to Kiel and took a job as a nurse in the hospital of the local university. She quickly worked her way up to the operating room nurse. She stayed in Kiel until 1952, where she also spent the time of World War II. In her free time she volunteered in a church aid organization and sewed shirts. She had to experience the bombing of the city, an important navy base, as the complete destruction of not far away Hamburg and the destruction of her hometown Paderborn including her parent’s home. She experienced the depressing post-war period with hunger and the greatest need in a devastated country. Her favorite brother died in a prison camp under unclear circumstances shortly after the war. All of this may have contributed to her desire to break out of her world and start a new, different and hopefully better life. In the summer of 1952, she read an advertisement in a newspaper promoting nurses for Canada. She applied and was invited to a 3-day test in Bremerhaven, today this would be called an Assessment Center. She obviously passed the exam because three weeks later she received the official invitation to immigrate to Canada. She had her 40th birthday on the Atlantic on board a steamboat to Halifax, where she arrived on 2 November 1952. One day later, on November 3, 1952, it went to Montreal for six months. At the local Royal Victoria Hospital she was not allowed to work as a nurse at first but had to do various support services, like in the kitchen and in the cleaning service, at the same time she went through language training. In mid-1953, she moves to Ponoka, south of Edmonton, where she takes up her first job as a registered nurse. The circumstances there do not seem to have pleased her. She does not stay there long and takes on September 8, 1953 her job as a nurse at Drumheller Hospital. Here she seems to have really arrived. In the following year she marries Jan Hutter. They met in the hospital; Jan worked there at the gate. One year later, in 1955, she is promoted to surgical nurse. Now she has finally reached the stable living conditions she had strived for. And she begins to enjoy the new freedom and opportunities that the now economically stable conditions offer her. In 1959 she flies to Hawaii on vacation. I was 10 years old when the postcard hit home like a bomb. I proudly told at school that my godmother was vacationing in Hawaii. The postcards immediately silenced all the skeptics in the family who were not convinced that her emigration to Canada was a wise decision. In 1960, she visits home for the first time. She obviously enjoyed being courted everywhere as the rich relative from Canada. For many years she spends the holidays alternately in Germany and on trips to the world. She travels to Alaska, Australia, New Zealand, Bora Bora, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Fiji, Mexico, Disneyland in California, Las Vegas. It is noteworthy that she undertook all journeys alone, never in the company of her husband. It seems that her restless search did not find fulfillment with the achievement of stable economic and social living conditions. At the age of 97 years she is flying to Germany for the last time. Her sincere wish to spend her 100th birthday in Germany is not met by her relatives out of concern for the travel stress. But some circles in her life were closing. At the age of 95 she asked to be taken to Kiel to the university hospital. Everyone was puzzling what this trip meant. The trip inspired old rumors that not only material reasons could have led to her “escape” from Kiel. Also today a circle closes. Hilda, you carried me at my baptism almost 70 years ago and gave me to life, today I carry your ashes to the end of your long life. Dear Hilda, rest in peace.