I was born in W. Germany in a year not too long ago to a military father and German mother. My dad re-enlisted when my mother was expecting just three months after I was born to make sure we had our crap together to make the move back to the states.
Upon arriving in New York…..we traveled back in a red Volkswagen my dad had the Army bring back on a ship. We drove all the way to Houston to meet my grandparents and get acquainted before being sent to Montgomery, Alabama where sister number three was born. As young as I was, I can remember riding in the back seat without a seatbelt and my new baby sister lying on the seat wrapped up in a blanket right next to me…huh, weird.
My mother’s first impression of America was how dirty it was…people didn’t seem to take pride in how clean their homes were and it didn’t bother them to have garbage lying around in the streets and neighborhoods. Her most ‘wow’ moment were the choices of food in the grocery store! These are the things she shared with me when I was older and had to write a family history report in school.
After my dad’s stint in the Army, we settled in Houston of which I’ve mentioned before. What I haven’t shared is the fact that my English sounded like my mother’s accent! When I started school, I was placed in a speech class to correct the mispronounced words I was saying. Back then, we didn’t accommodate other languages, you were sent to a speech class so you could speak proper English. I sat in a circle of chairs with all the other foreign kids, horrified to be singled out for something I had no idea I had! Bad English. I came home and told my mother that I was never going to speak German again.
Man I regret that.
Over the years I’ve learned a lot about my mother’s childhood and what it was like to grow up in a war-torn Germany with nothing to eat (WW II). When my mom gets together with her sisters (one is here and the other two are in Germany) they eat, drink, laugh and cry (all in German mind you) about how they survived as “third-world” children compared to what their lives are like today. Their language is music to my ears…yeah, I know what you’re thinking….it’s not exactly romantic, but boy it means something to me.
So why am I mentioning all of this? My mother bought my sister and me a ticket to Germany and we leave together with my mom as our tour guide this week! I finally get to see and explore where I was born and where my mother grew up. I will be reunited with aunts and cousins and family I didn’t even know I had.
I will walk the cobblestone streets, visit some castles, drink lots of beer and eat lots of German bread and cakes! There is nothing better than hearing the words “Marianne, the cakes are ready!”
Yes, I’m finally going home. Stay tuned…….