Sunday, September 6, 2009
Peter Anthony & Leif in Heidelberg, Germany - August 1978 - Leif age 3 and a half
We were so fortunate to be able to live just six kilometers from Peter W's beautiful home town in Germany, Heidelberg, when Peter A. was small. When we went back for our second tour in Germany, we lived in Nurnberg and then in Sachsen bei Ansbach, about a two-hour drive away, so we didn't get there as often to see Peter W's aunts, uncles and cousins, and to enjoy the city, but it was always a highlight when we did.
This photo of my boys with the Neckar River and the castle in the background was taken during a visit in August 1978. That was probably the visit when we went up to a balcony on the Heiliggeistkirche tower with Peter's Uncle Helmut to watch the spectucular fireworks during the "burning of the castle" celebration, commemorating the partial destruction of the castle during the Thirty Years War. It was a very special evening.
At the time this photo was taken, we were about to move from Nurnberg to the village of Sachsen bei Ansbach, where the boys would go to German schools, so at this time, they didn't yet speak German, as they would in a mere four months. Visiting their dad's relatives meant they didn't understand the conversation yet.
Peter Anthony was almost ten years old in this picture, and Leif was only three-and-a-half. Although Leif looks very small, it's hard to believe there was six years difference in their ages. Both our boys were blond when they were little but had very dark brown hair like their dad as adults.
Peter W. and I ride our bicycles together nearly every day and a few days ago he asked me several questions, like what was my favorite vacation, my favorite meal, favorite restaurant, favorite place we had lived, the best times of our lives. I always find questions like that so hard to answer. We have had so many wonderful experiences that it's very hard to pick a "best," or even ten "bests," but it set me to thinking about the best times of our lives and I think I would have to say the years between 1977 to 1986, when we lived in Germany, Japan and Hawaii. We had so many incredible opportunities and experiences, and yes, great food and fascinating travel, but those years were best of all because all four of us were together and doing it all together, and the boys were old enough to participate and enjoy it, too. This picture is a part of that, their chance to share in their father's hometown and heritage.
When we left Germany to move to Japan in 1980, I never thought it would be eight years before we went back to visit, and when we went in May 1988, Peter Anthony was not with us. Leif was thirteen. I don't think Peter A. has been back since he left in 1980, when he was twelve years old, and neither Leif, nor us, went back since 1988.
We had a trip to Germany planned for the end of April 2008, and our tickets purchased, but then Leif died and we could not go. Now when we make that trip it will be bittersweet for the memory of the canceled trip, and the memories of him there as a young child and a young teen, never to return.