The Reunion: 55 Years Later, the What-Ifs, and good German beer (light or dark?)

My plane departed Austin at 4 pm on June 28 and landed Saturday in Frankfurt at 9 am. I was seated next to a German engineer whose company had operations in central Texas so our conversation helped pass the time. I had a little miscommunication on terminals, pickup location, etc. so once I found Michaela and Nina they were sitting in a public area in the Frankfurt airport. Fifty-five years is a long time, but we connected quickly and were soon on our way to a tour of the area and lunch. After a quick clothes change, we headed to Neckargemund and ate at a small restaurant overlooking the Neckar River. Ordering beer in Germany is a delight. There’s only 2 kinds: light and dark. No poring over lists, just a simple order. Here’s a picture from right outside the restaurant.

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Nina, Mum, and me with the Neckar River in the background. Good food and reunions. Spectacular day and weather.

They dropped me off later in the day as I was starting to fade from the jet lag. Just so happened that the hotel they chose for me was having an outdoor concert. A little sparkling wine and music. No better way to close the day.

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Beautiful grounds of the hotel in Darmstadt they picked out for me. Mum actually picked out my room.

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Just a little Saturday get together to enjoy the weather, wine, music and friendship.

On Sunday, Mum’s other friend and tour guide, Sibille, drove us to Eberbach Abbey, a former monastery which now produces wine. It was established in 1136, 350 years before Columbus made his way west. Check wiki for more info. It’s kind of a big deal. After a quick tour of the Abbey we partook of some great German wines in their tourist center. .

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Eberbach Abbey. Photo taken right outside the tourist center which is to my right. Another day of fabulous weather.

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Photo of wine barrels with candles from behind a locked gate. They made a lot of wine there. The faithful’s drink of choice. Good enough for me.

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A giant press used in the for wine making process. There was a room full of them, and they were not small. Circa 1500s.

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Photo from the chair lift (Niederwald-Seilbahn Assmannshausen). The Rhein River in the background.

Of course, there was some gift giving. We brought some Texas treats for Mum and her friends including a scarf, sweatshirt (it’s gonna get cold there soon), and some snacks.

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In Mum’s living room. You can barely make out the Texas Mom mug and there’s a UT scarf on mum’s right leg. You can tell she’s my mum because she’s pointing her finger at me. Apparently, in trouble, again.

At one of our stops (I had the light beer), I saw this bottle. Hadn’t seen Havana Club since Cuba.

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On Monday I returned to Frankfurt for a couple of days of meetings. Then back to Darmstadt one more time before flying back home on July 4.

We have been emailing regularly and now Michaela has learned to use WhatsApp. It’s opened a whole new way to communicate with her. And we frequently use it with our overseas friends.

So that’s the story.

What was lost is found. Fifty-five years, a lifetime to some. Friendships, faith, love, closure. I’m pretty sure something else was at work here. Too many coincidences. I often wonder what if my mom hadn’t passed. Would Mum have found me? It was the obituary that linked us. Death has brought new life and love. There’s a plan bigger than we are, and we don’t know what it is while we breathe this air.

During my trip, we spoke more than once about the decision not to join my family in the United States in the mid-1960s. Like Diane von Furstenberg said, “You only regret the things you don’t do.” I think about that what-if.Trying to reconcile but don’t have an answer yet. The bigger plan.