Paperback – 978-0-9949977-5-3
eBook – 978-0-9949977-6-0
A fancy hotel in Bremen/Germany had lost my reservation. They put me up in a maid’s room above their pub, a few hundred feet away. Afraid to go down for dinner in the noisy pub full of men, I locked myself in and ate my last Granny Smith apple. Without television, radio or books, all I had was a magazine. I read it from cover to cover.
I came across an ad placed by a former German man living in Canada. He looked for a new mommy for his four-year-old daughter. Canada? I was intrigued. I used several pages of the note pad next to the telephone, wrote a reply and never thought I’d get a response. Without being stuck in this small room, I would never have done that.
Four weeks later, I found a large brown envelope with several ‘Beautiful British Columbia’ magazines, a letter with excellent handwriting and several photographs of father and daughter in my mailbox. Wow! I sat there, stunned, staring at all of that. My guts told me ‘watch out,’ but did I listen?
The Canadian man’s father, a lawyer, living in Germany, called me. He knew about the ad; he wanted to know me and told me, “my son is not a fly-by-night. Sit down and answer his letter!”
I did, and an active letter exchange started. I visited the lawyer and his family; they were upper class, kind to me and, since I was a single lady alone in West Germany, I got hooked. Three months later, I got ‘engaged’ to the Canadian man by telephone.
While I was in Spain for a holiday, the lawyer and his wife organized our wedding without ever asking me. I had met another man who tried to talk me out of the Canadian adventure; my parents were upset – but I was in love with the cute little girl and reluctantly went along with it. I did not see a way of entangling myself from the family. ‘Louis from Canada’ came for the wedding a week before it happened. His little girl spook no German, my English was limited.
I left Germany seven months after I had answered the ad and immigrated to Vancouver, Canada. I realized several weeks after my arrival that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. Louis used my hard-earned and saved money to pay his debts to pay for his car and a down payment for a building lot. He even faced me to confess, “I had to increase the loan to come to Germany to marry you.” I had no way of returning to Germany. I had been blinded by his well-to-do parents, thinking, ‘the apple does not fall far from the tree.’
I was in love with the little girl I did not have the heart to disappoint her. She was happy to have a ‘new mommy.’ I was also afraid to tell my parents that they had been right to warn me. I tried hard to make the best of it, took English classes at the YWCA in Vancouver to be able to converse with the kid as well as neighbours. In Germany, I had been a health educator, giving lectures all over the country, and here I felt lost and even stupid without mastering the language. I had lived teenage-years in East Germany, and after I escaped to West Germany, I was considered a ‘second class citizen.’ I did not want to be a second-class citizen in Canada!
We moved to Winnipeg, left beautiful British Columbia after only five months. After just a year, Louis’ second daughter, omitted and not mentioned in his ad, came to live with us. Several months later, I bore a son; I considered him a gift from God to keep the family together. A few happy years followed.
Louis started his own business and went bankrupt. I lost my drive for life, was thinking of ways to end it. Facing suicide several times, I couldn’t do it because of my little boy. Louis told me, “Their first mother left the girls, and if you do that, you’ll ruin them for life.”
Trials and tribulations were my constant companions. Does everything happen for a reason? I don’t know. For the last couple of years after twenty years of marriage, Louis had an affair that led to divorce. I lost everything and moved back to Vancouver, hoping to start a new life.
Here is a bouquet of stories, thoughts and memories. The stories in this, my most recent book, are part of me and part of people who profoundly influenced me. They traveled in and out of my life in different ways. I would have loved to have shared more time with some of them. Memories of people who have long since left this planet live on in my heart.
Yes, a thousand ‘Forget-me-nots” have crossed my path. .
Each story is independent of others; some are short, some are longer. The names of individuals have been changed where necessary to protect their privacy.
After a happy childhood in the country little Gila’s childhood was over when she was only eleven. Unbelievably gruesome experiences during the last stages of WW II and nearly dying from diphtheria during a three week “walk to nowhere” aged her before her time. Upon recovery from typhoid fever she took responsibility for her three siblings while her mother worked and also when she was hospitalized. Her father had been taken to Siberia and reported dead.
Gila’s intermittent schooling and subsequent dropout did not deter her from following her desire to become a PhysEd teacher. Success in kayak competitions were her joy. The division of Germany into East and West with its political ramifications caused her to escape to West Germany. Her indomitable spirit enabled her to fulfill an old dream. However, life as a traveling company representative as well as an unwanted affair made her life very stressful. Finally, a confrontation with a rapist led to the wish to go far, far away, to be “free”.
This is the story of just one family yet millions of women of all ages were raped. Asking these women about those horrors they would answer “We Don’t Talk About That”.
Also by Giselle Roeder:
Healing with Water – Kneipp-Hydroherapy at Home – 2002
Water can ease a variety of common conditions. This book shows the simple and effective techniques of Kneipp hydrotherapy and how to use this health treatment successfully at home.
Sauna – The Hottest Way to Good Health – 2002
Used by the Finns and others for centuries, the sauna is a way of deeply cleansing your body, improving your health and reducing stress.