Friday, August 20, 2021

September 7, 1944: Happy When?

Letter from Opa to Grandmother, September 7, 1944.


Kansas City
September 7, 1944


So you still haven't found Skunkie? It certainly is a shame. He may turn up someday all by himself, but it is rather doubtful.

While I was gone last night, some H. Miller called me, but left no message. I was a little worried, for I don't have the slightest idea who it is. Who knows my address here?

Kiefer's letter is typical, just like a 16-year old girl's. Naturally, the best for her is to go into the forces and find out the hard way. Who knows? She may even like it. If she does get a commission, so much the better. Yes, I would advise her to do it. (You probably have done so already.) Thanks for sending her letter. Also, for sending the bill of the Life Insurance Co. I'll wait a little with paying until I know what to give for a permanent address.

You should see the show "Seventh Cross." It's a picture of the German Underground, and good. It shows the trouble a guy has escaping from concentration camp and making his way through Germany, to Holland. I wished we could have seen it together.

Honey, your mentioning of the apartment you have seen brings tears in my eyes. It seems as though we are as far from settling down now as ever, unless a miracle happens. I do believe in that kind of miracle, though; I must, to keep going!

I suppose you are at the doctor's now. I hope he won't hurt you and that it won't be embarrassing for you. The presence of the nurse will probably help.

Guess I'll go to the library tonight and do some reading. I wished you were here and we could go together. Remember the nights at Manhattan? I came over at 6:45, we walked to the library, studied, joked, bothered each other studied again for a while, and then went to Dad's for coffee. Just a minute or two before ten, we left in order to please Sophie. Goodness, weren't those careless and happy those days? I know we are going to be happy again; but when? And what's going to happen in the meantime?

Good bye Margie; when do I see you again?

Always yours,


Opa's reference to the movie about the man who escaped a concentration camp and traveled across Germany into Holland makes me ask again if he ever did escape from a camp. He seems to want to share these specific details (everything else is similar to his story) with Grandmother. A question I'll likely never know the answer to.

It sounds like Grandmother is at the gynecologist, and by the way Opa is talking, she's nervous about it. I hope everything goes OK.

Opa is reflecting on easier, blissful times, studying at the college library with Grandmother. 

I remember studying with my sister in college. We would go to the local Books a Million; we affectionately yelled "BAM!" when referring to it. Very little studying was ever done. I don't know what we talked about, but I know that it was lovely to have those  sister dates, to feel connected and to have the freedom to meet up at any time. We haven't lived in the same town since leaving college, and our relationship has seen its ups and downs, but the foundation of time together on our own has been one I am always grateful for. Now my sisters and I have weekly zoom sister dates, memories and moments that make these challenging times feel so much easier.

I'm realizing that when we reflect back on "good ol days," most of the time what we're really remembering is not the absence of responsibility or challenge but the unencumbered access to life-giving relationships. (Fewer challenges help, sure.) Most of the time we're thinking about a time when we felt connected to a community, connected to a person, connected. 

Opa is talking about better days, but really he's just remembering the bliss of being with his love. 

To that he says: "I know we are going to be happy again; but when? And what's going to happen in the meantime?"

I think that question sums up the worry and anxiety of anyone in those in-between times. Opa's optimism that they would be happy again is what kept him going. 

You can borrow his optimism if you need it. I know I do many days.

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