Hilmar built crazy things, big and small, the fancier the better. Maybe, he hoped, the world would see what a genius he was. Maybe he would finally become famous. He had set up an Instagram account for this, and a friend helped him with the videos. In a laconic-sounding voice, Hilmar commented in rhyming stanzas while chasing a picture of Putin through a shredder, which in turn is about to eat a Ukrainian flag. action art. Every like counted, Hilmar longed for every comment. He didn’t even have to reach for the stars.

There were the children, for example, who wide-eyed when he drove past them: Dressed up in his giant monkey costume on one of his self-made cargo bikes that looked like little cars. Or the woman who had a disability and had always dreamed of driving a car. Because that didn’t work, she bought one of Hilmar’s Trabant cargo bikes. Happy she drove with it from the yard. Here a smile, there a laugh, there an astonishment and again and again conversations with different people about his current plans. Hilmar, the old man, was busy. There were small exhibitions, he had a booth at the art market. become famous? In a way, he already was.

Hilmar lived on the ground floor. Just a small apartment that was more like a workshop in which he stacked everything that could still be useful to him. For example planes, hundreds of planes. If he saw one that he still lacked, he bought it. Outside the door was a homemade coffin in the shape of a giant plane. A TV crew had already been there and interviewed him. They became aware because Hilmar was looking for serious colleagues for a coffin-building team in a newspaper advertisement.

But the great thing was that Hilmar could always sit on his doorstep. For the neighbors he had a greeting and a well-considered joke. From time to time he glanced at the children when they still wanted to play in the sandbox but the parents had already gone upstairs. He took children seriously. Listened to what they had to say, patiently answered their questions, noted their birthdays. Then he would have a little teddy bear or something made of wood for her.

He picked his own grandson up from daycare once a week and took him to the playground. Later he stood in front of the school gate once a week and again later they met on Wednesdays at the Turk’s and ate Kumpir, stuffed potatoes. The grandson thought it was good to have discussions with your grandfather, to have him explain everything at length and then think about it. However, Hilmar no longer had any contact with his sons. It’s three. Only his daughter cared for him as he grew older.

His own father had been strict. If the bakery wasn’t swept properly, if Hilmar only had the hint of objection on his lips, if he’d done something, then something would make a difference. Hilmar was 19 when he fled to West Berlin. As a trained carpenter, he quickly found work. Good-looking, tall and funny as he was, he quickly found a girlfriend. She was 16, just doing her apprenticeship, when she got pregnant. Barely grown up themselves, family life began for the two. The three sons were there first, followed a little later by the daughter. They lived together in a huge apartment in Friedenau. Hilmar went to work, his wife took care of the rest. At some point they separated, but remained married.

Holidays, excursions and lots of friends, there was dancing and partying. Hilmar once lost 20 kilos for a carnival party, painted his naked torso red and put on a black wig. Or he got involved in a neighborhood initiative and helped set up playgrounds. Hilmar was actually always there where something was going on, where he could tell people something and let loose his jokes.

He once had his own shop for renovation supplies, then he sold and laid parquet, or he built bunk beds and renovated apartments. In his CV he wrote that he had completed a degree in business administration, although it was only one course. Once his daughter was asked to take a few photos of a renovated apartment. He introduced her to the apartment owner as his architect. He told the television crew that he had been working on the coffin for decades, but it had only been a few weeks. He kept it to himself that he had not always optimally organized his business and that he accumulated debts.

He preferred to think about the latest idea. Gorilla and polar bear costumes that he constructed to appear as if the animals were wearing him. Lego crucifixes, action figures, veiled Barbie dolls. Wooden figures cleaning a golden handle. A cold dog whose biscuits were layered to represent the Brandenburg Gate. The ideas flew to him. Since he wasn’t a perfectionist and always used what was available, he simply implemented it.

Unfortunately, his planed coffin was much too big for the German cemetery regulations – so he wanted to build an urn out of bark, which he had already gotten. But he didn’t get any further. After heart surgery, he fell asleep and never woke up.