The ‘Beheaded’ Rose

DSC02601Don’t think it is easy for me to tell you this story. It should be one of the chapters of the sequel to my book “We Don’t Talk About That”. It is a little love story but it really isn’t a love story. Read it and decide for yourself what you want to call it.

I met Hannes two months too late. Had we met two months earlier something might have become of it. Maybe. Maybe not. He had such an infectious laugh, such as I had never heard from a man and never did again. I knew he would never do or try something I would not want. He was ‘comfortable’ like an old pair of shoes, more like a brother and I felt at ease when I was with him. I still kept him at arm’s length. Why? There were several reasons. One, I was afraid I could fall in love with him. Two, he was in the middle of a divorce even it was a friendly one. Three, he was from the Rhineland and the Rhinelanders had a reputation for being ‘light weights’, people who didn’t take life too seriously. Fourth, he was Catholic and I was Lutheran, a match my parents would not approve of, even if neither of us were religious church goers. Fifth, I was in love with a little girl in Canada who needed a new mommy. Her father and I had been pen friends for two months and he wanted to marry me. But the main reason was I was afraid, simply afraid that a man who was obsessed with me, who had stalked me for years would be true to his promise to ruin any relationship I would ever have with another man. “If I can’t have you, nobody else will.” I had told Hannes all about it. Hannes listened, talked to me and made me see all sides, he pointed out the pros but mainly the cons about going to Canada. He sounded exactly like my father who thought I had gone totally bananas. “Canada! Marry a man you didn’t know, divorced and with a daughter? Nuts!” The problem was my compassion for that little girl, after seeing the photos with the sad eyes. I just couldn’t get her out of my mind. After I had met the grandparents in Wiesbaden I was lost. They didn’t even give me a chance to back out. I wasn’t strong enough. And I didn’t know I was being manipulated. The word did not exist in my vocabulary or my thinking.

Hannes became my best friend. He helped me plan my emigration. We went to the zoo in Hamburg, to a fabulous Indian Restaurant and sampled the “Indian Rice Table” with 23 little bowls containing different delectable types of food. We visited the “Pferdestall” a famous kind of pub/bar in an original horse barn. We attended “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on the stage under the stars in the Herrenhäuser Gardens in Hanover.  Until I started to get very involved with my Canadian penfriend and his parents and sadly, my friendship with Hannes somehow tapered out. It was the end of a time with lots of laughter for me but I didn’t realize it until much, much later. When I was living in Winnipeg in Canada I got terribly homesick. I wrote to Hannes telling him about my life. He was married to a lady he had seen in the theater. He wrote “I had noticed her legs and they reminded me of you.” He had approached her during intermission, they had a glass of champagne and the rest is history. Hannes and I remained in contact.

It was a few years later when I visited Germany again. I had arranged a meeting with the last company I worked for since I wanted to import their skin care line to Canada. I had been instrumental in developing a number of the creams. Before flying home I planned to visit my sister in Hamburg and since Hannes lived there he picked me up at the train station. He handed me a beautiful long stemmed dark red ‘Baccara Rose’. We walked across the busy plaza in front of the station to his parked car. After he put my suitcase in the trunk he opened the door for me. We both were a bit shy, not yet at ease as we had been during the two months in the past when we had laughed a lot. I held the rose and my purse with one hand, trying to arrange my fancy coat which had a split in the back so the two sides could be lifted and you would not sit on it. I changed the flower from my left to me right hand and arranged the coat around me with the other. Finally I was seated with both coat tails on my lap. Hannes asked “is everything in now?” We looked at each other when I replied, “yes everything is in”. He closed the door and walked around the car to his side. As he was inserting the car key I noticed I had only the stem of the rose in my hand. I felt the shock right down into my tummy:

“Hannes, look” I whispered with a tiny voice. Hannes grabbed his steering wheel, put his head on his arms and slowly, quietly said “Just like us. It’s our story. A beheaded love story, a beheaded rose. I should have seen the rose wasn’t in when I closed the door. Should we stop by a flower shop and I buy you a new one?”

We decided against it. After a while driving along Hannes started to laugh. His Rhineland humour had taken over and he thought the whole episode was really very funny. I was sorry to have lost the beautiful flower head but I saw the weird humour in it as well. Actually, because of the accident, – I never forgot the rose.


A Beautiful Rose for a Beautiful Lady #Greece #Rose #Wine

Holiday in Greece

Holiday in Greece

It was just a small airport somewhere along the Greek coast. A bus was waiting to deliver all the guests to their respective hotels. Looking towards the back of the bus I noticed that everybody seemed to come in “twos”: couples, two women or even two men. One glimpse and I was surprised to see the second row wasn’t taken. I sat down by the window. I was used to traveling by myself in Europe after the conclusion of some business I had in Germany. Greece had always intrigued me and the year before I had enjoyed a “Classic Greek Tour.” This time I wanted a sunny holiday.

As more people entered the bus I wondered what kind of neighbor I would get. Could it be “the one”? Tall, dark and handsome? You never know, right? More twosomes pushed by and finally a middle aged woman asked “Is this seat taken?”

Unique driveway

Unique driveway

“Now it is” I smiled at her, pointing to the seat. She had an easy laugh and sat down. It didn’t take long and I knew her life story. She wanted to know at which hotel along the strip I had booked. It happened to be the very last one, two stops after she had to get out. Her hotel looked pretty nice; it had a beautiful driveway up to the main entrance through a gorgeous garden. Small rocks apparently laid by hand formed intricate designs. I was impressed and just hoped my hotel would be this nice. Marianne disembarked with “Bye, I’ll visit you soon.”

Well, my hotel was just as nice as the picture had been in the travel catalogue. The receptionist was incredibly friendly. I loved my room overlooking the Mediterranean. It actually was a five star hotel while Marianne’s had only three stars. The beach was a bit disappointing, – no sand, just millions of pebbles and little rocks washed smooth by the rolling waves. I had to buy a pair of plastic sandals to wear to walk across when I wanted to go swimming. I had been placed at a table with an elderly couple from Hamburg. We were chatting over an afternoon drink (actually coffee and cake) when Marianne turned up. She found us, just took a seat and exclaimed: “This is heaven! I don’t have access to the sea. I think I’ll visit you every day!” Open and outspoken as she was it did not take long and the Hamburgers knew that she was from Kiel in Holstein and was looking for an apartment in Hamburg since she was going to start a new job there after her holiday. It turned out that my Hamburger friends knew of an apartment in their building and after a phone call to the manager Marianne had rented it. Wow! Talk about coincidences and luck!

Pebbly beach

Pebbly beach

After a small lull in our conversation with Marianne being the main contributor she told us about her arrival in her hotel. All had gone well, she had a nice room on the main floor with a double bed and she joked about a recent stay in a clinic to get some help after a really lousy painful divorce. The double bed had reminded her and she fled the room and took a walk through the gardens. She noticed lots of roses in one area. “I went closer to smell the roses”, she told us, “and I was a bit shocked when a deep voice from behind a huge specimen said hello”. A tanned, nice looking man was dead-heading the roses and she took him to be the gardener. “You won’t believe it”, she told us with by now really rosy cheeks, “after finding my voice again I complimented him on the beautiful garden and I told him that I love roses. He took a branch with a gorgeous rose on it, clipped it off and handed it to me with the words

“A beautiful rose for a beautiful lady”.

We were impressed, laughed and talked about the charm of the Greeks. She came back the next day for a swim and we again had our nice little table in the shady corner.

“You won’t believe what I have to tell you today!” She exclaimed. ”Last night after dinner I was writing in my diary when there was a knock on the door. I went to open it and there was a waiter carrying a tray with a bottle of wine in an ice bucket, two glasses and a rose on it. I told him that he must be at the wrong door because I did not order anything. He had a note and was adamant that mine was the right room. He pushed his way in, set down the tray on my small table in front of the window. He left and closed the door behind him. I did not know what to make of it and was afraid to go to bed. I would have loved to drink a glass of wine, I had the suspicion that this was from the gardener but since there were two glasses I didn’t dare to start the bottle. I got tired of waiting as it was close to midnight, got myself ready for bed but still sat there in the dark expecting a knock on the door at any time. But it didn’t happen. Finally I slipped down under the blanket and drifted off to sleep.

“Can you believe this? What would you have done? I never was so unsure, anxious and even a bit afraid in my whole life. I am not sure what I would have done had he turned up. At breakfast I saw a well-dressed man walk through the room, greeting every guest at every table and finally he came to mine. Can you imagine my shock? It was the gardener! He was the manager. I was totally flabbergasted. He asked me if I enjoyed the wine. I told him that I had thought it wasn’t for me and since there were two glasses I didn’t dare drink it but that I had realized it must be from him and I had thought of him all night.

“That was the idea, my lady” he said, “he gave me the biggest smile and bowed moving on to the next table.”

Wow! What an idea! Who else but a charming Greek man can come up with such an idea?

A beautiful rose for a ....

A beautiful rose for a ….