Letter from Ella to Opa
Berlin-Charlottenburg, April 25,1941
My dear, dear boy,
This letter should reach you close to your birthday and tell you what you already know, that I am with you with loving wishes. Now you are 21 years old and are fully responsible for all your actions. I believe these last years have matured you very much and you understand your responsibilities created by your talent. You may not get stuck in mediocrity, you have to accomplish something special. Hunschen, how I would love to be there with you. I will ask Ann'chen to come and see me on the 22nd, we will drink the bottle of Russian ...... (cannot read the name) which I received from the H - V for New Years, toasting to your and Maurice's health. Because my other son will also turn 21. I don't know him at all, but I love him already. The man, my Pattilein loves, has to be a good and valuable person. When are we finally together again? When will I have you back? I have not heard from you for such a terrible long time, Hunschen please write every week, even if it is just a card, so I know you are well. I wonder if you celebrated your birthday? If yes, send me a short note, and let everybody who cares for you and is there with you, sign it.
I had asked Ellenruth to send you a little something. Hopefully she did it. What about my affidavit? If only it would work out soon. In your last letter you described everything so wonderful, that my longing gets stronger and stronger. That Pattilein and Maurice will be able to visit us then. Do you hear from Papa? I cannot understand him at all. Hopefully he will write to you for the birthday. I wonder, if next year, I will be able to prepare a birthday table for you, with flowers and candles? And lead you into the room, like I used to do?
Hunschen early at 6 AM, I'll come quietly to your bed, wake you up with a birthday kiss, and for the whole day I won't let go of your hand, and caress my child.
Remain open (speak your mind), strong and true! And stay to be my little, big boy!
I kiss you dearly!
Mrs. Ruhstadt, who always takes care of me so lovingly (without her I could not give so many lessons) sends you loving good luck wishes. She is always happy with me, when a letter from you arrives, I always have to read some of it to her. Naturally personal things I don't read to anybody, that is my precious life-sharing time with my beloved child.
Be happy, my boy!
Ella's love for Opa is stronger and more consistent than a heartbeat. She writes him a month ahead of his birthday with birthday wishes, hoping he'll receive the greetings on time.
She writes her usual encouragement which also must feel like a weight on Opa's shoulders: "your responsibilities created by your talent." She expects so much from him, but out of genuine love and pride for his abilities. She plans to toast to his birthday with Annchen and a bottle of Russian something, I'm going to venture that maybe they have a shot of vodka to celebrate!
Maurice, Patti's husband, shares the same exact birthday with Opa, so Ella celebrates them both. Ella offers her unconditional love to Maurice on the sole reason that Patti loves him. I think that is beautiful.
Ella asks about the Affidavit and for Opa to write. Little does she know that a copy of the affidavit is on its way to her, and that Opa has been writing back and forth with the AFSC on her behalf. He seems to be keeping the details quiet, only telling her nice stories about where he lives and his friends and school. He knows she does not need to have more to worry about. I bet he doesn't tell her about his visa problems, the German consul issue, or anything else that could cause her worry.
I love the birthday table, a German tradition for celebrating birthdays. I love the idea of having a special table decorated with flowers and candles, maybe a gift or two. Ella's most high wish: to be with Opa and hold his hand for the whole day.
She mentions Mrs. Ruhstadt, who is her faithful neighbor that looks after her and provides a dear friendship. When I visited with Renate in Berlin (Renate is Ella's niece by her younger brother, Kurt), she remembered Mrs. Ruhstadt and the connection the two women had.
The last line before Ella signs off: "that is my precious life-sharing time with my beloved child." What a legacy of love she has left me. I'm grateful and lucky. This legacy continues.