Confronting the Past Part Three

I want to talk about my parents a bit, after all, who we are got started with our parents. Whether we approve or disapprove of them, they are the primary builders of our reality. My mother was born in a little town outside of Stuttgart, Germany. My maternal grandfather was a tailor and my grandmother was a housewife. They had three children, my mother was the middle child. I suspect that her family had been in that area since Neanderthal times XP.

My mother was born in 1923. That means she grew up during the height of the Third Reich. I never really had a chance to talk to her a whole lot about that period in her life, all I do know is that she did, out of nessecity, belong to the Hitler Youth for a time. However, my grandfather was, and always, a Christian Democrat. He never joined or supported the Nazis and ended up doing a couple of stints in Nazi Labor Camps for his views. As I have said in posts elsewhere, my grandfather is one of my heroes.

My father was born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1913. He grew up under a Tsarist Regime and served in the Bulgarian Army in the the early 30s. His mother left her husband and went to Australia with her two youngest of thirteen children. My dad was in his early teens I think, and went to live with his grandparents. My father had the equivalent of a MBA from a prestigious Bulgarian Business. Prior to leaving Germany is 1944, I believe it was, my father was the treasurer of the German-Bulgarian trade association. He left Bulgaria because the Russians invaded in support of the Bulgarian Communists and my father saw his best friend executed in a park in Sofia. The Russians hung him upside down from a tree and machine-gunned him. Obviously, my father feared for his life and left for Germany where he had a sister who was married to an orchestra conductor in Stuttgart. That’s how he met my mother. My father spent the remainder of the war in a Nazi Labor Camp while I was growing up. He still had the photo ID that he had to wear while in the camp. His clothes remind me of what Dobby from Harry Potter was wearing while a servant to Lucius Malfoy- A potato sack. My parents got married after the war, and I was born in 1948 and my brother was born in 1949. We emigrated to the United States in early 1952.

My parents were by current standards quite strict. My parents, especially my father, believed in “spare the rod and spoil the child.” I guess by the standards of today my father would be considered abusive, to some extent, but by the standards that he knew and grew up with he was doing what a good parent should do. It took me a long time to understand that. Growing up I always felt he was too harsh, but in some ways I’m grateful for that harshness. I learned a few lessons that are not well-taught anymore: Respect for your parents and a sense of self-discipline that was developed at an early age, although I rebelled against it after my mother died and it took awhile for me to get it back. My mother died in an automobile accident in early 1966. My mom and dad had gone grocery shopping after work and left us three kids at home. They were gone quite awhile and we were getting worried. Finally, we got a phone call from the hospital that my parents had had an accident on the way home from the store.

They were driving down a two-lane blacktop road that was not well-lit and my dad ran into the rear end of a parked semi-trailer. Something I did not find out til just a few years ago was that my mother was decapitated in that accident. My brother found that out researching old hospital records. That explains the closed casket funeral.

My father died Labor Day weekend 1981, he had had a stroke early that Summer and the doctors told us that he was going to have another one before too long and that stroke would kill him. My father and I had been estranged for some time prior to the earlier stroke. When my brother told what was going on I took what vacation time I had and took the Grayhound to the small town in Pennsylvania where my brother and father had moved to a few years earlier. My brother was married then with two kids (his youngest son had not been born yet) and my father and sister lived a few miles away. I went to the hospital to visit my dad and make my peace. I did not want him to die without us burying the hatchet. To say the least, it was a tearful episode for both of us. I was in the proccess of getting divorced for the second time at that time but I did not tell my father. I figured he didn’t need any bad news at that point in his life.

2 Responses

  1. John, do you have any idea of how many hearts have been touched by reading your lifes story? Mine surely has been. Thank you John. I feel honered to know you. God surely has blessed you for opening so many peoples eyes to all that you and your family had endured. God Bless you, my friend.

    • Louis, I am touched by your comment. I really had no idea that these posts would the reaction they have been. Especially from people like you who were classmates of mine back in the day. I appreciate that fact that you posted your comment here, most of our fellow classmates have posted their comments on Facebook, which is fine, but it is better if comments are posted here. I do want to apologize that it took me almost a week to approve your comment, I had intended to come back here mid-week but, as the saying goes, shit happens. Lol. Again, thanks for the terrific review.

      Peace and Blessings to you too,
      ~John

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