Eternal Nestling

Stefanie Silber

2014 - Ongoing

Hannover, Lower Saxony, Germany

When Rosi Evers was two years old, her mother read in 1957 in a women’s magazine about Down’s Syndrome and recognized what is different between her little girl and the two older sisters. With seven they won to give her in a kindergarten, with eleven she started to go to a regular school. »She didn’t like mathematics, but I wanted her to learn everything she can. She learned to read and to write.« Uschi Istas is seven years older and as the »middle sister« she became the herding dog of the family. She founded a small foundation with other parents to build a place, where 23 people with handicap can live their life. Rosi could go to work, every week she loved the dancing class. Every weekend she was with the family. For decades Uschi invited her younger sister to travel with her, called her Röschen, »Little Rose«. 2016 they had to find a new place for Rosi, because she needed more and more help. And again this search became a pioneer work. Only two month later her mum died with 99. And for all it feels like she may have allowed herself to leave because now she knew the last home of her daughter. Rosi’s world became smaller and smaller. Dementia is hard to diagnose, like every illness of somebody who lives a part of his life in his own world. She lost more and more words, in the end the names of her sisters. In January 2019 she got strong epileptic seizures and after weeks of disappearing more and more she died in February. »What is my sense of life?« Uschi asks herself now again and again. »Rosi has been the only one who accepted me the way I am.«

Since her first semester of her studies of »Photojournalism and Documentary Photography« 2014/15 in Hanover, Germany, Stefanie Silber is with the family. They became very close, so Stefanie was allowed to help to dress Rosi for her last travel with the clothes Uschi chosed. The history of the sisters changed now to the question how to live with this loss, this gap after a symbiotic life.

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  • I her own language Rosi E. tells her mother about the working day. When they have a good time with each other she calls her mother »Mäuschen« (Little mouse). (2015)

  • There is a night of a full moon after Rosi E. died. Uncountable often she went this path to the apartments of her sister and her mother in the same house. This evening the two older sisters have to sit alone. (2019)

  • »Now it is set in stone« Uschi I. said, after she had been at the stonecutter’s studio. The day after felt eminently heavy. (2019)

  • Two days after the death of Rosi E. Uschi chosed some clothes and Stefanie (the photographer) helped the undertaker to do Rosi a last honour. Uschi told her that alone she probably wouldn’t have dared to see her sister again. But now she would be glad about the silence which spreaded in her.

  • Rosi E. at the leave-taking two days after her death in february 2019. (2019)

  • Although she forgot the names of her sisters, there still is this trustful intimacy. Rosi E. remembers that Uschi I. came every friday to take her for the weekend. She wants to go with her every time, so every visit becomes another small sad farewell. (2018)

  • Uschi I. visits her 7 year older sister Ilse K. at the Northern sea. The family celebrated a lot of holidays and christmas’ there. In December 2019 both will start a round-the-world cruise. Maybe the width of the sea can bring future. (2019

  • In a sheltered workshop space Rosi E. worked for more than ten years. In the end her concentration decreases. Rosi E. was born 1955. (2015)

  • Years before »inclusion« the family found a dancing teacher for »Escorted dancing«. First her mother went with her, since some years Uschi accompanies her sister. But free dancing in the end with her best friend Birgit F. is always the best. (2015)

  • More than 100 guests join the obsequies ceremony of Rosi E.. Some of them join the way to the grave of her mother, where she will become buried. The family decided to design the white urn with a print of a painting of Rosi E.

  • At the »Lindenhof« (Yard of Linden) where Rosi E. lived for eleven years, the former housemates celebrate an remembering afternoon. They asked for Stefanie’s images (background) because she accompanied the community so often. Every housemate glued a hand of felt on a blanket with musical scores »because Rosi loved music«. (2019)

  • Uschi I. started to go to a chorus and to university, but it doesn’t fill her emptiness. Since a lot of weeks she procrastinates the last administrative settlement for her sister. »Afterwards there is nothing more to do.« (2019)

  • In May 2019 Uschi I. invites family members to her 71st birthday to an international fireworks competition in Hannover. Nevertheless she has no idea how to walk alone. (2019)

  • Uschi I. calls the visible pain attacks of her sister »thunderstorm in her brain«. What wishes Rosi? What would she do? She cannot even drink one of her loved cappucchino’s. Five days after this image, a month after the main epileptic seizures, a doctor called. Her sisters went to Rosi E. and less than an hour later she died. (2019)

  • It was always hard to find doctors with enough patience to find out, what Rosi needs. The highest level of medicine didn’t help to get her out of her epileptic status for days. A doctor told Uschi »I have never met a person with Down’s Syndrome at this age. Are you sure about the diognosis? Honestly we have no idea how these medicines work with her body.« (2019)

  • Uschi’s husband accepted her little sister immediatly and so they travelled a lot together. »Röschen/Little Rose loves old buildings and museums«. The CultureTravels of Miss Kaiser take Uschi I. und Rosi E. to Dresden this time. (2014)

  • With admirable patience the family donates Rosi E. all the time she needs. This friday evening they play a memory with open cards. (2015)

  • After the days of working became to long Rosi E. went to a Senior Daycare Centre for people with a handicap. She can paint or have a break whenever she needs to. Her heart is beating slow since her birth but now she gets tired really often. (2016)

  • Rosi doesn’t like to play theatre and this means nobody will have the chance to convince her. But she loves to go with her family to see her housemates in a play about human rights. (2015)

  • The world of Rosi E. becomes smaller and smaller. She lost her 3D vision and is scared to topple. With her sister Uschi I. she dares sometimes to go out, smell lavendel or eat a garden strawberry. The other day she is grumpy because the silent tone of her roomate’s radio is to loud for her. (2018)