I'm caught between my love and understanding of Ella and mu sympathy for Opa. To be sure, Ella's situation is the most dire, so I give her a little more credit. Not to minimize the pressure that Opa is under, but in a way Opa is afforded the daily escapes of student life and freedom in America. Ella does not get such escapes. In fact, even celebrating her birthday (which was August 4th) is painful. She is annoyed by all the people who came to bid her happy birthday. I kind of love this about her. She is the kindest, nicest person and she just wants to be left alone. Ha! I think honestly her desire to be left alone is because it takes so much energy for her to be hospitable and pretend that everything is ok when things are really not ok. She's a proud woman, she doesn't want pity, she doesn't want to lean too hard on anyone. She also needs her space to be sad.
I almost laughed out loud when she said she received Opa's letters from July 31st and August 3rd and then said that if he knew how much she loved his letter he would write more often. He wrote two letters in one week and it was still not enough. Of course she admits her own failures in writing regularly, but oh man. Poor Opa.
The Stiers are Ella's sister and brother in law. They lived with her while they were waiting for their visa to come in (they sold everything including their flat to fund their trip out of Germany). This was obviously a bad situation, as it seems that Ella and Martha and Erich were just not meant to share a home. Martha and Erich are the parents of Ellenruth, the person Ella keeps telling Opa to write or meet up with.
Ella breaks my heart when she tells Opa that she remains optimistic about her ability to emigrate. I can tell Opa tried to tell her that it was a near impossibility at this point. She will not accept that. She does not consider Martha to be a close relative (perhaps she is alluding to the rule that German immigrants can't leave behind family members). She seems to be under the impression that Opa can march into Washington with all the right paperwork and get her in. Or perhaps she is just desperate that he try anything. I don't know if she is familiar with US geography, but Kansas is not close to Washington D.C. The fact that she is suggesting he personally hand in her material to me is telling of just how desperate she is.
So just in case Opa wasn't feeling mothered enough- Ella expresses her concerns that he is too thin.
Honestly, I think Ella is trying to make up for years of hands-on mothering that she feels she has missed out on. Whether it frustrates 21 year old Opa or not is up for grabs, but I wonder if he looked at these letters later with fondness for such a clear and tangible example of his mother, mothering.