Featured Member – Helga Glinatsis
The Perfume of Roses
Most of us know that German born Helga is an enthusiastic Australian and long-time GWCA member. Some of us might know that she is an accredited florist, but few will know that in the proudly cultural town of Magdeburg in former East Germany she was born the daughter of a rose grower. Every afternoon fields were inspected and the roses cut, after which they were packed into boxes with ice and sent by train to Cologne, Leipzig and even Czechoslovakia and Poland where they would be in the shops by the following morning.
After WW2 Helga’s father was forced to ‘voluntarily’ give up his land. Thus began a slow decline in the rose grower’s health, culminating in his death. Helga’s mother and her two girls then moved to Cologne where Helga worked as a window dresser with an international ceramics retailer, filling each of the twelve windows with roses in fine vases.
The path to Australia began when she and a Greek Australian met on holiday in Greece. Three months later she was a working wife in the Bistro of Tweed Heads Golf Club serving – you guessed it – coffee and tea!
A son and two years later she ventured into her own business as a florist. Romantic idealism lost her a $200 order the day someone requested she write ‘Happy Birthday you old tart.’
‘I am not sending this with my beautiful flowers!’ declared Helga.
Being gregarious by nature, she became involved in various community organisations including toastmasters and GCWA. Awards for speaking are displayed on her wall along with commendations for writing competitions. At the 2010 GCWA Christmas party she read a moving and much applauded short piece on Childhood Christmas in Germany which is reproduced below. A book about her fascinating life and childhood is also in the making.
A Childhood Christmas Memory from Germany
Grey clouds unloaded millions of fluffy snowflakes. An icy wind carried them howling along the street and around every house corner. Frost bit straight through my garments.
I couldn’t stop shivering so I hurried faster and faster, as quickly as my little legs could go to reach my Grandmother’s house. I slowly opened the heavy door. Aromas of freshly baked ginger bread and pine arose; cosy warmth enveloped me.
Grandma was eagerly waiting. She loved preparing for my weekly visits.
‘Only few days, then the Jesus Baby will be born again. It’s such a great mystery! Not everyone has the privilege of seeing him!’ she whispered and lit the fourth bees-wax candle in an arrangement of pine branches and glittery bulbs.
‘You really have to believe, close your eyes and wish for it, then you will be reborn in the spirit and feel young again.’
‘Oh! No! Omi,’ I cried. ‘I don’t want to be younger than eight. I want to get older very soon!’
Nutty ginger bread with chocolate started to melt on my tongue. I felt in heaven already – inhaling all the fragrances, closing my eyes, still waiting for a miracle to happen.
Well, I got my wish and got older. But each year I close my eyes, remembering the Prince of Peace and Light, expecting the rebirth of my spirit, soul and mind again and know eternity is written on my heart forever.
Helga Glinatsis © 2010