Tuesday, May 15, 2012

# 265 - Grrr, then Honoring Past Ancestors

To honor our years in Germany, the place where I gave birth to my first child and the place from where some of my husband''s descendants immigrated from...we will be decorating our kitchen and dining room in the old-European style with German touches, here and there.

In the photo below, I can't tell you exactly where we are...somewhere in Europe. There's Deputy Dave and I standing on the steps...we were extra tiny back then!

Deputy Dave and I spent our years in country collecting a few German momentos. We were dirt poor, as most military families find themselves, so it was not easy finding things to bring home.

 After our years in Germany, I came back to America with piles of German coasters that we had collected from Gasthaus facilities, mostly from all regions of Germany. Each coaster reflected a different German region and their brewed beer.

Many years later, back in America, I had minimal help, in the kitchen area only, with packing for the move to the house we now live in and someone mistakenly thought these old coasters were rubbish, so they threw them into the trash, without asking me if it was okay! We probably had sixty coasters tucked inside the china cabinet for safe keeping over the years.

Soon afterward, I discovered many of our mementos that had been stored in our china cabinet had been tossed out with callous disregard...most average thinkers would realize that those coasters weren't stored in the china cabinet without good reason while other people just didn't really stop to think about anything other than THEY didn't like the coasters and trashed them without permission from the owners.

If I help you pack, then ALL of your things are going in the box, carefully. Even that scrap of paper in the corner of the drawer that looks old would go into the box. I'm wise enough to know the old torn piece of paper might have been the first item that passed hands between you and your husband during the 3rd grade. Yep, the helper should not assume that they are given unapproved "throw away" discretion.   

Since that particular experience, I don't want help packing my special things. If someone insists again, they can have the linen closet that is full of non-personal items that we wouldn't miss or could easily replace. In fact, these days, my locked china cabinet is off limits to the general public coming in and out of our house because I'd like to hold onto my last two German coasters and a few other items that might still have the iffy appearance of a trash-sack-stuffer.

As for packing up household items, through the years, I mostly managed it on my own. My husband handled the heavy stuff, the garage and hauling out most of the big boxes. But, all the tedious job. The left-over sporadic stuff would be thrown into a box for me to sift through later, but most items from each room are always packed in an organized fashion, with the box numbered and inventoried on a ledger. Since we were a military family...I DEFINITELY have a packing system under my belt that I'll never forget. It's good we're not in a hurry to pack and leave, not today.

I'm considering having these old coaster designs, that survived the random discarding and are now at least 25 years old, to be used in our kitchen design. I'll most likely have them blown up poster size and have them professionally matted and framed for us to enjoy.

Since we returned to America from Germany, we've not really spoken about those days away from our families too often because, to be honest, it was painful and sad to leave Germany at the end of the long tour. Either leaving or staying, we were going to be heart-broken. It was my very first home away from home. Deputy Dave had lived on his own, been in the military and had been shifted around from base to base, but Germany was my first home away from Texas home after I left my mom, dad, brother and sister to move to another country, at only 18 years of age.

The home-sickness for my family was indescribable. I had plenty of love in my heart for my new husband, his family and for my own family...but we were unable to be together because of my husband's military duty. That's how it goes folks. In those days, we didn't have the luxury of computers or cell phones, we had a phone that clicked and counted down the time on a LCD screen for the call to be billed. It was highly expensive to make an international call. Even local calls were billed. A ten minute conversation could cost about $30. --- today that would be about $100, at the least --- that one phone call cost nearly as much back then as it does now to pay an IPhone Bill for a MONTH. Calls home were expensive; getting to hear your mom or dad's voice was cost-prohibitive. Letter writing was our best option for staying in touch. I have hundreds of letters that I kept during those years away from "home."

Those were the wait for a letter to come in the mail, to see your mom or sister's handwriting and be so eager to open the envelope, but to not tear the envelope too much so the enclosed letter would be safe from over-eager fingers. You'd pull out the letter and instantly count the pages to see how much reading you'd have in store, then you'd decide when and where you'd like to get settled, uninterrupted, so you could sit and absorb each and every hand-written word, paying close attention to words that were underlined or in capital letters. Often, you crushed the letter to your chest, as if it would bring you closer to the person whose hand wrote each word. Then, you'd read it again a time or two. For people today who have ease of communication, they have no earthly concept of what it was like to be separated thousands of miles from your family, in an area where you didn't even speak the language and to get a letter from home, well, it was as good as it gets.

For this past Mother's Day, I was able to read a letter that my mom had written to me while I was in Germany and it was full of beautiful sharing. My mom wasn't perfect, but geesh, the two of us sure had a wonderful relationship because we accepted and loved each other without all the bitching and griping that goes on in the world today. I sit back and think that perhaps some kids today should have their electronics taken away and maybe they'd again learn to appreciate the people in their lives instead of taking everything forgranted in a foolish manner. As for me, I loved reading my mom's letters about the exciting things happening back home, the mundane things, I loved getting updates about my little brother and sister; her newsclippings from our hometown newspaper were always appreciated and, of course, the letter wouldn't end without mom asking me a ton of questions, which I ALWAYS dutifully answered, in order. I have those letters to hold dear to my heart. Such a treasure. I'm glad that I wrote home to mom and send her sweet words. I am glad I lived a life toward my parents that I am not ashamed of. Even if I was fiercely independent, I remained respectful. That's how it worked back then. You didn't demand that a parent owe YOU respect; that would have been a grave mistake to think that you were elevated above your parents or the elderly...we earn our titles and the title of parent comes with respect. For those who rebel and are resentful of parental authority, never respecting it, they will suffer all their life because that type of set-up surrounds us for the rest of our life. We start to REALLY understand this set-up once we have kids of our own, who have their own mouths and we figure it out...parents have a tough job and that in itself is the reason it is to be respected.

I respect my parents. My mother is gone, but my father is around and I do whatever is needed to support him and love him, even if I disagree with him. He is a dear friend of mine. I wouldn't trade my position of respecting my father for anything. To this day, I know he'd fight to the death to protect me...not many people in this world will do that for another. A parent will do it for their child, without blinking an eye. Most kids can't comprehend that kind of devotion. Unfortunately, some have no respect for it.

Seeing as our days in Germany bring back good memories, even if bittersweet, I've decided to make Germany culture and design part of our melting-pot home because my husband is from solid German stock and my children have this heritage from their descendants to respect and honor. My oldest happened to be born in Germany, as my husband was serving his country of America and able to live in the country of his descendants while serving, so she was "Born Abroad to American Parents Stationed in Germany." But, she has the same amount of German in her as her little sister, who was born and raised in Texas. YEE HAW!!

Both are of the same blood.

Heather, about 22 years ago, in Germany.
Yes, she's an "Americana" but got to see Germany up close,
even if she doesn't remember it.
However, my youngest daughter has just as much German blood in her veins as well, even though she was born and raised in Texas. YEE HAW! To honor and respect their ancestors, we will be putting up European lace curtains in the kitchen, setting out our German beer glass collection on display and adding important photos of our days in the Eiffel Mountain region of Germany. It will feel great to enjoy celebrating the country where my husband's ancestors came many generations ago.

Since my children have a good mix of fascinating heritages to pass down and to draw upon for their genealogy study, I hope our cabin in the woods will reflect our family of today and of our distant past.

Stefie, 21 years ago - My blond gal was born with dark
curly locks of hair and sky blue eyes. Ready to smile!
I can't wait to get started!


Charade said...

Wow, that was a trip down Memory Lane for me, too. As an Army brat whose dad did two tours in Germany, I can only commiserate on the loss of precious 'stuff' every tine someone else did the packing. What I wouldn't give to once again see my collection of coasters - long ago lost in all the moves. I wonder if they still use those at every Biergarten?

Anonymous said...

You learn hard lessons. Like not to trust your possessions to others during a move. We had 'help' once...not ever again.
I worked hard for all my possessions and there are too many fond memories attached to most of them ,that mean a lot to me..maybe not to anyone else.
I am very glad you still have some to hold on to.
I also hope you will be able to move VERY soon.
Do you have the contractor and plans lined up for your temporary housing/ shop ready to go?

Rae said...

:) I happen to be a horrible packrat, and LJ knows to not touch my "old junk". Heck, I once nearly walloped a friend who was helping me pack for a move, as they tried to throw out an old "junky" metal peace sign on a ratty old shoelace. My dad carried that in Vietnam, thank you very much. So, I can so hear ya in the "help" not being helpful. :)

I'm also a "born abroad" baby! Though I was born in Canada, and my dad had been long out of the military then.

Anonymous said...

Lana, I want to suggest your realtor or you put your house on Craigslist. You can include photos.
It is so much easier to use than most realtors laborious web sites. If folks are looking for your area to live in it guides them right to you. Beth

LindaG said...

I can not believe someone threw out something without asking!

maybe they'd again learn to appreciate the people in their lives instead of taking everything forgranted in a foolish manner

So true!

Wonderful post, Lana. *hugs* ♥

Linda, who is learning to pack her own things. ;o)