Just When I Thought I’d Heard it All Before

……my father throws another gem into the story that he’s retold at least a dozen times

Story #2 for The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge, which is to post a new story each day for one week.

“It was Love at First Sight!”

Everytime the family gets together with my 86 year old dad we are entertained with tales of my father’s childhood, war stories or how he met my mother. This Christmas was no different. In January my father will have been widowed from my mother for 20 years but as with many men, my father needed a woman in his life and he found love a second time.

Dad’s partner, G, is always present when he rallies us around for his stories but when he talks lovingly of our mother I always feel somewhat uncomfortable and can’t help but wonder what goes through her mind when Mom comes up in conversation.

This year, on Boxing Day, my middle sister, her family and I drove to the Schwa to celebrate the holiday with my father and G. Somewhere between dinner and dessert Dad started to reminisce about his life shortly after the war. The first new piece of information that I had never heard before was how my grandfather died. I knew that he had an accident on the job but I didn’t know the gruesome details.

After the war ended in Germany my father’s parents were allowed to stay in their family home which was now part of Poland. Most Germans were sent packing with whatever they could carry on their backs but Opa Winkler was asked to stay because he had a skill that was needed to rebuild the town. His job was working on the hydro lines and unfortunately the pole that he ascended one day was unstable and fell over while he was still on it. He spent three days in the hospital in a coma and eventually succumbed to his injuries.

The other part of this story that I didn’t know was that my grandmother and her two children were then forced to leave their home and were relocated in Bielefeld in West Germany. My father at the time was working on a farm  and had no idea that his father had died or that his family had moved. When he did learn of their fate almost two years had passed. This new piece of the puzzle filled a void in the bigger picture. I now understand why my father left the farm, a job that he loved, and moved to Bielefeld. It was, of course to help his mother and his siblings get back on their feet. Little did he know at the time that Oma Winkler had already found a man who was more than willing to assist her.

My father continued talking about how he moved on and found a great job with an English general as a house boy or personal assistant and eventually made his way to Frankfurt where he worked in an American hotel. It was here that my mother accidentally bumped into my father, looking for her sister who worked in the same place. My father claims he felt sorry for this young girl and initially just wanted to help her out but according to him “it was love at first sight” for my mother. Here was the man who would father her children.

I wish my mother were here to tell her version of this story. I’m sure that it’s mostly true but I have a feeling that there’s another side to this tale of romance.

4 thoughts on “Just When I Thought I’d Heard it All Before

  1. It’s so important to hear all these stories before it’s too late to ask questions. So often we just accept stories only to discover at a later date that there is so much of our own family history we don’t know. Enjoy and make the most of it while you can.


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