Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A German Childhood: The Beginning / Der Anfang

This is my story ...

I was born in Frankfurt, Germany in the earliest of the 1970's.  My birth occurred in late November, and from what my mother tells, it was cold and wet and dreary; but this is when I first met some people who would mean the very most to me - the memories of these people I never want to forget!  They are people I wish my children could have known, but I have many stories to share, some of which I will record here.

a peek into my carriage (Kinderwagen) - 1971

Of course, my parents were - are - very important in my life.  I am so thankful for OUR story, especially the journey my mother and I would make through our lives and to this day... but outside of my parents, my grandparents, particularly my mother's parents - whom I called Oma and Opa - would influence my childhood and give me a rich heritage and sense of being loved that I carry deep down in my heart.  Even writing about them now makes me kind of teary ... I still miss them even though many, many years have gone by since they left this earth.

On my very first Christmas, I wasn't even a month old yet.  The picture below is of my father's mother, holding me.  Her name was Klara; she had an interesting yet somewhat tragic and hard life.  Her husband died in Russia in World War II (I think it was in 1942).  She raised my father and his sister while managing a small grocery store.  I don't know much else about her actually - apparently, she had a very bad temper as a younger woman;  but you'd never know that from this picture as she tenderly holds her granddaughter.  Klara died in 1974, just a few years after this picture was taken.

Also in the picture above is my Opa; this is my mother's father.  His name was Wilhelm.  My Opa was born in or near Frankfurt, the oldest child with 1 brother and 5 sisters:  Paul, Elisabeth, Maria (Ria), Johanna (Hanni), Helene (Leni), and Margot.  He was a soldier in World War II and later many things to include a streetcar conductor, but ultimately, he worked in civil service for the post office.  He was also my biggest fan!

Because my mother had to go to work, my grandparents babysat me every week day.  My Oma liked to tell the story of how she told my mother she promised to have very little to do with child-rearing of the new baby ... until the day I was born - and then my grandparents were an active part of my life, practically daily!  My Opa in particular just knew how to be fun - and he was so patient with me.  He sang to me, read me stories, and watched me play.  Later, he built me a swing, a play house, and set up monkey bars for me to climb.  

I am not sure if I realized how very good I had it when I was when I was little ... to be so carefree and to be the center of some one's world.  I do know there was a wonderful security in that feeling, whether it is conscious or not; I never doubted that I was very loved. 

Of course, my Oma - my mother's mother - was very special as well.  And I will share more stories about her as time goes on ...

New Year's Eve - 1973
My Oma & I prepare for the new year *1974*

So, this is my beginning ... and there is so much more to tell ... 

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