July 17 2014
Dearest Old Bolds,
Family, and Friends,
What was I
thinking, planning a trip through France and then two big
counterclockwise circles inside of Germany in 60 days with a
90-year-old, and working my "real job" at night? Holy cow!
Welcome to Day 46.
This afternoon we're visiting a Knight's Cross holder, but before we
do, we've spent a pleasant morning walking through the wonderful spa
park in Bad Driburg. Germans love to go to spas - they have a lot of
ancient healing waters throughout the country - and their health
insurance sometimes even pays for the visit. Too bad we don't have
time or money to immerse ourselves in mud, or loll in the pool.
We're badly in
need of some downtime as a result of our grueling travel schedule,
but it's ever onwards. Although some of our appointments have
cancelled, we still need to get to the next gentleman.
This week we had
an appointment with a dive bomber with the Knight's Cross. Charley
had talked to him just over a month ago to set up the appointment.
When we called a few days before our arrival to confirm, the number
We feared the
Picking up our young historian friend
Jannick (who is 18 and has been interviewing veterans since he was
15), we set out to find our man, come what may. At his house the
neighbors, to our relief, informed us he was still alive, and
assisted us in reaching the family. That avenue only provided us the
name of a home where he had been placed. With a smart phone, we were
able to find the phone number and address.
In the end, after driving down a
god-forsaken, nearly abandoned road, strewn with dead weeds, we
found a modest old folk's home forlornly positioned under a massive,
and loud, autobahn overpass. There we dropped in without prior
notice, finding our man in a room with his bedridden wife. Although
he's nearly blind, he welcomed us with warm handshakes, and his eyes
teared up when I held his hand.
He wouldn't let go
while he tried to regain his composure. I wasn't quite sure if he
understood who we were and why we were visiting him, and if the
distress came from that quarter, as may happen for folks who have
But it was much
worse than that. He was fully "on board", as was his wife. At the
end of the world, removed to this sad place, they had simply, for
all practical purposes, been forgotten. Our quest to find him took
him completely by surprise, and he couldn't hide how much our simple
presence affected him.
And so we are
reminded how important we humans are to each other, how essential
love is, how easy it can be to give joy just by showing up, and how
necessary it is to offer and receive the gifts of respect and
recognition. Here, the antidotes to the ever-increasing, casual
cruelty of our daily lives.
Even though I am
not there with you, I am thinking of you, and sending you most
beautiful wishes on this summer day,