My Dad, Addy Buhlert (1938 – 2023)

This is not the post I wanted to write today or indeed ever. But on October 1, my Dad died. It was very unexpected, because in spite of some health issues in the past, he had always been very healthy and active. In spite of his age, he still worked part time as an engineer until about a month before the end. And initially, it seemed as if the health problem that put him in hospital was easily treatable. His condition deteriorated very rapidly, within the space of only a week.

What makes this even worse is that I was the one who found him when I went to visit him at the hospital. A physical therapist who treated him tested positive for covid, so they isolated all the patients who had contact with her, including my Dad. So he had a room of his own. I went in and said hello, but he didn’t react. I thought he was a asleep, so I touched and found that he was cold and a somewhat stiff, whereupon I ran screaming from the hospital room, much to the displeasure of the nurses.

The hospital (this one, which is hated by pretty much everybody for its confusing layout, unsuitable location and difficulties to access by car, yet the Bremen senate keeps pouring money into it instead of doing the smart thing and gradually relocating the specialty clinics to other, more modern and easily accessible hospitals) was seriously understaffed and on Sunday afternoon, there were only two nurses and one doctor on duty for a ward of at least twenty to twenty-five patients. A nurse claimed that she had been in my Dad’s room forty-five minutes before I found him and that he was still alive then. I definitely know that a neighbour visited him two hours earlier and said he’d been asleep but alive then.

This is all very difficult for me, not just because it happened so unexpected and so fast – and indeed, everybody I called was stunned at the news – but also because I have to deal with everything – funeral preparations, informing relatives and friends, dealing with legal and administrative issues – largely on my own, because I have no siblings and my Mom isn’t well enough to handle those things. A lot of neighbours, co-workers, friends, etc… offered me their help, but there are a lot of things only an immediate relative can do. The fact that Dad never really said how or where he wanted to be buried, what sort of music he wanted, etc… doesn’t help either. I have a decent idea of some things – that he wouldn’t want to spend too much money on a funeral and that he would prefer donations to his favourite charity to flowers – but for others, I have to guess or go with what works best for my Mom and me.

I posted about this on Twitter and BlueSky a few hours after it happened and the outpouring of condolences (in four different world religions), messages of sympathy, GIFs, personal stories, etc… as well e-mails and personal message and even the sympathy cards piling up on the kitchen counter was overwhelming and very comforting. Honestly, if you ever find yourself wondering whether “My sympathies for your loss” or something similar helps, believe me, it does.

There are not a lot of photos of my Dad, because neither I nor anybody else could get ever get him to look into the camera, but here are a few:

Dad at Christmas last year.

Here is Dad at Christmas last year, opening up a present.

Dad with co-workers and SEPCON

Dad in his element, posing with several co-workers in front of a SEPCON unit, which cleans oil-contaminated water. Dad helped to design and build these systems, which are used by the German Federal disaster relief organisation THW and other agencies worldwide.

Dad at approx. age 10

Because my Dad was a kid during WWII, there are not a lot of childhood photos of him. This is one of the very few that I have and shows him at approx. age ten.

1965 wedding portrait

Here are my parents at their wedding in 1965. My Mom has a marvelous beehive and my Dad looks somewhat silly and a lot younger than he was. The bouquet is quite interesting as well. According to my Mom, the dangling eight-shapes were two small myrtle wreaths, myrtle being the traditional choice for wedding wreaths and bouquets in Germany.

Regular blogging will resume eventually. The review of the Foundation season 2 finale is definitely coming and was about three quarters finished, when life got in the way. I also have two con reports planned as well as more Masters of the Universe toy photo stories, because they give me joy. Not sure if I’ll do episode by episode reviews of season 2 of Loki.

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16 Responses to My Dad, Addy Buhlert (1938 – 2023)

  1. Laura says:

    I’m very sorry for your loss. Never easy even under more expected circumstance. Your parents’ wedding photo is really sweet; they both look so young and happy.

    • Cora says:

      Thank you. And yes, I really like that wedding photo. Thankfully, I have a lot of photos of my parents in their twenties and early thirties. I have a whole album of my parents going sailing in the late 1950s.

  2. Fred H. says:

    Oh jeez, Cora, I’m so sorry — I already expressed my condolences, but I didn’t know you’d found him. What a terrible thing to have to experience. I can only express my deepest sympathy.

    • Cora says:

      Thank you. And yes, finding my dead father in a hospital which should have taken care of him is not something I wish on anybody.

  3. Fraser says:

    Sorry, Cora. Death always sucks and finding the body … my goodness.

    • Cora says:

      Thank you.

      And the more I think about it, the more angry I get that I had to find the body in a bloody hospital of all places, where that sort of thing just shouldn’t happen.

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  7. Robert says:

    Hi Cora
    I’m 67 and hope one of my 2 kids doesn’t find me as you did your father, one day. Still, and even though you would have wished to be there holding his hand as he slipped away, they say sometimes people choose to die when they find themselves alone. Still I find it nice in a way (although shocking I am sure) that you were the one to first see him and touch him after he had passed.
    I just tonight read Far Centaurus for the first time and came across your insightful review, which led me to this personal piece about your dad. I thank you for sharing both pieces and look forward to reading more such intelligent essays about great sf stories from “the golden age”, which I am gladly discovering or rediscovering during COVID and wherever post COVID takes us. A pleasant relief from some of the horrible events of our present world. Best regards, and take care in looking after your dear dad’s estate.
    Robert in Ottawa

    • Cora says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Robert.

      I’m pretty sure my Dad wanted to be alone. He probably didn’t want me to find him, but then he had no way of knowing how seriously understaffed the hospital was that day.

      The estate stuff is stressful, especially since my Mom is ill herself and cannot help. But at least I’m making some progress and had some good news.

      I’m glad you enjoyed my “Far Centaurus” review, which is also the story that changed my mind about A.E. van Vogt, because it’s a very good and haunting story. I’ve done a lot of retro reviews, which should lead you to more classics and forgotten gems of the golden age. I also hope to get back to the Retro Reviews, but right now I’ve got a lot on my plate. When things calm down, hopefully.

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