Welcome to my blog! This is my first post and an introduction to the journey we are about to embark... I plan to post weekly, so check back in soon!
I have a story to tell. I’ve always wanted to tell the kind of story that is real, earnest, honest, not rose-colored or censored. I wanted to tell the kind of story that you can’t get in a headline, but rather the secrets you hear on the sidelines. The real, authentic, vulnerable true story that is only shared within the bond of love and trust. I finally found it. It involves war, tragedy, loss. It radiates hope, courage, and love. It is a love story above all. Against the backdrop of hate, my story illuminates with love.
It all starts with a family of four: a boy and a girl and their parents. The boy is Tom, or as I called him: Opa. He was my Grandfather, a German immigrant who was stubborn and sweet. He spoke impeccable English in hushed German tones. Before he became my Grandfather, he was a child in a country haunted by The Great War, or World War 1 as we know it. His family lived in a large apartment in Berlin, Germany and he witnessed the Nazi party’s rise to power.
Opa told me snippets of his family history while I was growing up, and I was always fascinated. I can still hear his German accent in my memories. As a young girl, I was mesmerized by the love story between him and my Grandmother. Grandmother grew up in Kansas, the youngest of 4, spoiled as the only girl. When she and Opa met, she was engaged to another man. My two sisters and I never heard any details about this story until we spent the night with my Grandmother on the evening after Opa’s funeral. It was a slumber party to keep her company, and to relive a little of our girlish youth. Grandmother told us that the “other boy’s” name was Archie and that she certainly had made the right decision to marry Opa.
Several years later, after being the primary caregiver for my Grandmother who had declined in health, I convinced my parents that she needed to live closer to them. I had a young child with plans to expand my family and we were not guaranteed to always live close to my Grandmother. We needed to move her to the stableness of my parents, so she could be near family, her son is my Dad. We spent hours cleaning and packing for the move. One day my husband and I found a box in Grandmother’s office. It was a box of letters. The letters date as far back as November, 1939 and showcase the correspondence within my Grandfather’s family as he emigrated to the United States, letters of courtship from Opa to Grandmother, letters between the families on either side of the ocean, and letters of news of loved ones near and far. I was enthralled. I read handfuls of letters, crying over the news of those who had died long before I was born as if it was real time.
It turns out that my Grandfather left me a legend. As someone with a writer’s heart, I have always wanted to tell a story, but I never had one that was good enough. Now I did. I had the earnestness, the true love, the vulnerability. These letters slowed the moving process to a crawl before my family evicted me out of the box and promised that we would go through the letters later. Now my Grandmother has joined Opa in heaven and I begin my journey through their story.
My blog will share that journey. My husband has volunteered himself as my researcher. I will journey through these letters in chronological order, read documents and articles about the world around that time. I will show you the letters and give you the information I learned, and I’ll share with you how it has moved my soul. You, my reader, have a chance to experience this story of love firsthand. The love that is shown through multiple generations, between strangers and family. It is a story that brings me hope. Light in the darkness.
It all starts with a little boy and his sister, his Jewish mother, and agnostic father in Berlin. Somehow broken engagements, true love, Albert Einstein, Nazi’s, the holocaust, the US Army, and even the Quakers- all get involved.
Join me in my journey.