Wonderful, I will be a godmother (Gotte) – what does that mean?

“Will you be godmother to my son”, my nephew asks me…

Around Christmas, I try to calm down my nephew’s half year old son – I am his grand-auntie. Not his auntie, his GRAND-antie. Then my nephew asks me, whether I would be the godmother of my grand-nephew. I feel touched. Yes, of course, I agree.

I have never been a godmother before. Another new adventure at my – not so young-  age. I look forward to that and start to think about what matters.

After looking back to my childhood and listening to friends I think that care and love matter, being authentic and reliable, finding an atmosphere of trust, and living this by creating habits, by exchanging, by showing you are always there when needed and – yes, also – by making presents that will be remembered. It all has to come from the heart. Accept that this is a mutual relation and enjoy that. And it may become a friendship that lasts beyond the age of 20.

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Looking back to my childhood: I enjoyed the love and care of my godfather and my godmother though they lived far away

My godfather was Onkel Nante and my godmother was Tante Christine.

Bilder petra

Onkel Nante must have been my age (around 65), when he started his journey with me. He was my mum’s uncle and my grand uncle. He lived in Berlin. I could feel his love in the carefully selected presents, in the letters we exchanged and during my visits in Berlin. One present I remember were the Christmas angels singing “Holy Night”. It was a music box with a windup mechanism, and after some time, the tune would slow down: H-oo-oo-ll-yyy—- n-iii… and then it would fade away. These angels accompanied me every Christmas. When I was seven, Onkel Nante gave me a skirt with a matching vest, modeled after the red-green-white Scottish kilt, and I was proud of wearing it for many years – I also wear it on the foto. Then I received a summer dress in ice rose – so beautiful. And, when I was fifteen, he had a blue costume made for me to cover my (temporary) overweight. I often exchanged letters with Onkel Nante and his wife. Both were always interested in my life. When I was a student, I traveled to Spain staying in a tent, and I sent him a travel report. The result: An angry letter to my mum: “Please give your daughter enough money to stay in a hotel – tents are extremely unhealthy!” He was more than 80 years old by then, but he was still worrying about me. When I started studying economics at university, he sat down with me, looked at me firmly and asked, whether I will be able to earn a living with that. So – what I remember, are some great gifts and his loving care. And today, I always go to see his house in Berlin, not far from the mosque, to – virtually – say hello to him (his house has been sold).

My godmother, Tante Christine, was a friend of my mum’s and lived in Köln. She always lived alone and may not have had a lot of opportunities to travel. I have not met her often. But we regularly exchanged letters, and she always selected her gifts with great care. For my birthday and for Christmas, she would send me jumpers – they always became my favourite jumpers. I particularly remember an ice blue jumper. Through the letters and her gifts I could also feel her love. One day my letters were no longer answered. I was very sad. I think she must have been lonely and sharing her love with me was also important to her.

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Ernst, my husband, shared adventures with his godson

In my first summer with Ernst I heard him mumble: “My godson left a message on the answering machine. He wants to spend a few days with me. I will pick him up at the train station.”  We had a few wonderful days – I particularly remember the mini golf tournament that he won. Sometimes we all would take the camper, roast sausages, sleep near a lake in the mountains, go for hikes and climbs or visit the caves in the area. In winter we went out skiing. Every Christmas, Ernst renewed the subscription to “Spick”, a scientific newspaper for kids. After having finished school, the godson shyly said that perhaps he does not need the “Spick” newspaper any more. Now he is a scientist himself, and for his doctorate exam, Ernst promised him a globe based on his specifications… a wish that I eventually fulfilled, when Ernst was already a star watching over us. There was this regular tradition of presents and also sharing time and adventures. The relationship carried on into adulthood and I inherited it in a way after Ernst had left us.

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Some of my friends add that for them regularity, independent advice and a mutual relationship for ever are important

From various friends I gathered their godfather and godmother experience.

A friend of mine had a godfather that was a farmer with nine children: “He was not rich. But every birthday and every Christmas, he gave me a five franc piece (Fünfliber). He slipped it firmly into my hand looking at me with warm and kind eyes. I loved these moments. And they came back every birthday and every Christmas, with regularity. Being able to rely on this regular gift was very important for me”, he pointed out to me.

A couple told me that they had selected a very good friend as the godmother for their daughter. It all started well, but then the friendship broke. The godmother wanted to give back her duty. But the mother said: “Well, you may give back your godmother duties, but do not tell my daughter. She is very proud of you and she loves to think of presents for your birthday and for Christmas. We do not want to take that away from her.” So, the daughter, not knowing about the problem, continued to handicraft presents for her godmother. Eventually, the friendship between the parents and the godmother was restored and the daughter had never noticed the problem… Yes, the relationship between godparents and godchild is mutual.

My friend from Munich (now also in her sixties) told me that she has just visited Tante Bärbel in the hospital. She is her godmother and is now in her nineties. The friendship with the godmother lasted far beyond her childhood – beautiful.   And her husband added that he valued the advice of his godparents that added an independent view to the opinion of his parents.

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So – let me try to live up to that…

… and I do hope that I will be able to accompany my godson into his adulthood.

 

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