Once a month, a group of Glenwood Community residents get a taste of home.
Twelve women — some German war brides or women who married military men about 30 years ago — meet at Glenwood or elsewhere in the Marietta area on the second Thursday of each month for lunch to discuss the topic of the day, exchange recipes, speak German, and eat their favorite German cake or other delicacies.
“When you’re in a foreign country, it’s good to connect with someone who speaks your language. If you can get together with somebody and have the same likes and dislikes, it’s always nice. We just help each other out,” said Esther Stowe, 95, one of three Glenwood residents who is a member of the club.
A century ago, when the German Reformed Church started Fairhaven Home for the Aged, one of the benefits was providing a place for older members to be cared for by people who spoke the same “mother tongue.” They had some understanding of their lives as immigrants and could even provide worship in the language of their youth. Although Glenwood Community joined the United Church Homes family a century later, those connections through the German languages still ring true.
Founded in the late 1950’s, the social club Esther is a part of began after some of the first German immigrants arrived in the United States. The club started with a small group of women who met in the evenings in the homes of other members after their husbands came home from work. Christa Cope, 80, joined the group in the 1970’s after arriving in the United States from Fulda, Germany. In its heyday, more than 20 women were a part of the group, Christa said. “You hear news from the old country because most of them have relatives over there. It’s not just talking about Germany, it’s about your life here and of course what women talk about,” Christa said. “You feel homesick for your old country no matter what. Life is different here. If you can talk to somebody, that would help.”
That is the importance of community and finding others with whom to connect. From our earliest memories to understanding the context of our current lives, it helps to be able to communicate in all the languages that have shaped our lives.