Plants and things are taking over, they’re so violent in growing and producing seeds. I’ve realised that even some of the grasses are dying, which I’ve never seen before. The grasses have always been next to everything that grows well and some of them are dying out. I checked on them, and there are some little caterpillars underneath eating the grasses. They’re local grasses. I’m really sad about this because if there’s good grass cover underneath, then nothing else grows, it’s ground cover. It’s changing. Some of the weeds, Farmer’s Friend, they’re just coming up everywhere. Their seed clings onto you when you walk through. I know from home, the nettle, you can’t touch them because immediately you get this burning. I like them because they’re also a good pharmaceutical plant, very healthy. They help you also to pee if you have problems. So I’d always kept them there. But now they’re growing faster. There’s lots to learn and look after, but the grasses are missing now because they’re not coming through.
I’ve had a dozen lives because I’ve been in so many places during my lifetime. I was born before the Second World War started. My parents were not with the Nazis. They didn’t follow the Nazi rules, because they’re very dedicated Catholics. My father, because he was one of the hardest workers ever, I’ve probably learnt from him also. He was a laughing person, he was a joking person, he was always making fun and his customers when they came and they told him something, he was always making jokes and they were all laughing. He was the loudest laugher; you could hear him half a mile away. My parents were fantastic. I consider my parents a sort of holy people, very holy to me. He had a market garden, he had glass houses. My father was in one of the coldest places in Germany, it was in the central mountain plateau. I measured temperatures of -38 degrees Celsius, and that was on my birthday in February 1958. My mother was a very skilled florist. Even the neighbouring towns, they came to my mother and father’s place because they were the best. He grew the best plants, and she was making the arrangements.
I was still in eastern Germany. At this time my mother always said, she was clever, and she knew things ahead, ‘they are closing Berlin down.’ That was the only escape route, from East Germany to the West. The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 and I left in 1960, just a year earlier. Ahead of this time, my mother said there will be the wall in Berlin, NOBODY thought there would be. As soon as I came from East Germany to West Germany, I tried to gain more knowledge because I had no high school. I did evening school besides my work at the botanic garden. I could always remember botanical names, hundreds and hundreds and thousands. And I’m very fond of orchids. So I was put in the botanic garden in the care of orchids.
I said, I will dedicate my life to working with the church. I was 25 when I was applying to go to a mission in Africa. They said, ‘we have an assignment for you in Rhodesia.’ There was a Catholic mission run by German nuns and they were special order. So the principal of the place where I stayed was a nun and she also had subordinates and I was working with a garden sister. Of course, I was a good gardener. I was doing it correctly, good work. I grew vegetables, I grew fruits. I had about 5 acres to look after. I did a good job and they knew it because they were getting plenty of vegetables from me. They came 3 times a week to get their vegetables. At one time I had so much, I said to the sister, please tell the Mother Prioress we can sell some of those. The next day she told me, ‘Mother Prioress doesn’t want to sell any.’ I said, ‘then I have to feed the pigs here, I didn’t come here to feed the pigs, I came here to feed mankind, to feed the people.’ I had my first avocado there. It was in 1963. It was almost a shock. I vomited after that; it was a bit too rich. Then I didn’t touch them for 4 or 5 years because I thought I was allergic, but I’m not. It’s one of the best fruits ever.
I talked to the sister in the garden, and she was Bavarian. Bavaria is next to Saxony. I was born on the border of Bavaria but in Saxony. She spoke Bavarian and I spoke Bavarian with her. In Germany we have 20 different dialects. In the north they can’t understand the ones in the south. Now of course, they learn High German, which is proper German, everyone learns it at school and besides they speak their own dialect. We had a good laugh and one of the principal sisters, she was always a cranky one, she objected to me to talk to the lower sister and talk in dialect with her, she couldn’t understand it. So she asked the Mother Prioress to take that sister away. As soon as I heard this, I went into town and I saw Mother Prioress and I said, ‘Mother you want to take Sister Marcia away?’ I said, ‘if you take that sister away, she is like my mother, she is the same year born as my mother in 1908, if you take her away, I’m going. I will leave this place and you can look for someone else to grow your vegetables and fruits.’ And Mother Prioress said, ‘no, we will keep Sister Marcia here.’
I grew so much stuff. My boys came from all over. Their countries were even poorer than Rhodesia. We mainly talked English with them. I taught them English too. I said, ‘you can really get ahead in life when you have another language that’s not your own.’ They learned a lot from me. I was almost revered by my boys. I still call them boys.