To Put it Mildly

Ellen

Ingeborg Maria Hinderschiedt:  June 18, 1929  to December 7, 2013

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USN

To put it mildly

There is dissension in the ranks when finalizing the death of your mother.

What the question marks consist of- become themselves the question.

There was nothing pretty about the house I grew up in, and had been essentially locked out of since my age of 18.

I took it personally- never being able to visit, stay, or walk into my childhood home.

And then it became a habit.

The habit became the rule.

The rule was simply stated- DO NOT ENTER.

So of course I did not- could not- and assumed that the welcome mat had left the door.

I was wrong on ALL counts. Nothing was part of the equation to leave.

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This was the home of a collector.

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So all things entered, I simply could not on my own accord- leave, and perhaps, I was the lucky one to have in some way divorced myself away from what in the final analysis represented a complete abandonment of the will to live on, the conviction to continue, and a total loss of self dignity.

It was a horrible house. On it’s best day, it appeared as a beacon for good taste, a fine respite, and a wonderful and enchanting home.

On it’s worst- it was played the same way.

I really don’t know what happened in this house. I grew up here.

But what I do know, is that it was my mother’s home, and sadly, it slipped away.

I was so busy trying to fix things, and clean up the mess, that perhaps I missed the most important part- and that was my mother, Mutti, a woman that had perhaps experienced too many horrible things as a young girl waiting for the next bombing run in WWII.

She paid dearly for Hitler’s mistakes- and the price goes on. It is calculated in fear, repression, and the uncertainty of the intentions of other people.

She was gallant in the end of her life, she definitely knew that she would die, and that others would uncover her mess in her home and perhaps judge her for that.

I am her son. I took care of that disarray, and as bad as it looked, it was clear to me that in the end result- she was still afraid. Afraid of the German horror- the nightmare of indiscriminate slaughter of innocents that she was forced to witness, and face a survival of self- that would be forever tarnished with the salt of so many millions of innocent lives.

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I present to you my mother, my family, and the honor that is ours.

 

No one can truly judge events we never witnessed. All we can do is wonder how the few that survived lived on to become our teachers.

And Teach she did 🙂

So to you- my dearest of the dear- I want to say how truly great you were, not as a survivor- rather as a beacon to so many students that not only learned German in your classes, but dealt with the personal challenges you placed before them, and ultimately were affected and changed to become stronger in your convictions of the inner power within ourselves.

To those students I state simply: You don’t owe anything to my mother, but you do owe something to those you teach, raise, and love.

As for me? Mutti- you are the BEST of the Best.

I will never surrender or give up- because that is our legacy.  That was what YOU taught me- and I am your son.

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THIS is your legacy

 

Pope Blessing

 

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9 thoughts on “To Put it Mildly

  1. This is beautiful, Frank! Reading your thoughts give me an even greater understanding of your mom. I always knew she had estranged herself from you…but her reasons never made sense. Now that I’ve met you, saw the inside of her house, and read these amazing words, I think I get it. It wasn’t you. It was her – her fear. I don’t think she wanted you to see what her life (at least, her life as represented on the inside of her house) had become. It was “easier” for her to keep you at a distance. Thankfully, I saw both sides of your mom. I saw the amazing, intelligent, humorous, and kind-hearted person that she was. I also saw (and at times experienced!) the “fearful, repressed, and uncertain of other’s intentions” side of her. She has left a wonderful legacy… I’m so glad you were able to find so many of those “artifacts,” and that you are able to see beyond the exterior. Your words about her are a gracious gift to her memory. Again, it was a pleasure to meet you! I will keep you posted via pictures on the progress of her house!

  2. Friend and brother, I know the loss and pain. Now we realize it the intangibles that have the greatest impact to our sometimes shallow memories. Be blessed.

  3. Such a sweet passage! I love the pictures of your Mom’s treasures and would love to know their stories! Thank you so much for sharing!

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