My American dad and German mother met in 1957 on a Europe-bound cruise ship. When dad arrived in Germany with his California buddies, he visited her, and they wrote letters back and forth for two years before she came to the States and they were married. Dad passed away five years ago this week, and my mother is now remarried and very happy. But I am lucky enough to have received all of those glorious letters. If my home were on fire and I was only able to grab a few items, these letters would be among them, for without them I wouldn't be. I hold on to them as proof positive of my parent's love for each other. Their relationship turned out to be rocky to say the least, but they remained married until dad died. What kept it together? Lord only knows. Maybe deep down they both believed in fairy tales, at least their own. You'd think after my divorce and a couple of failed relationships I'd put that kind of nonsense aside. But like my dreamer-of-a-father, I still believe. Here's his letter to my mother's parents dated August 20, 1959, where he asks for their blessing. I love it. I love my dad. And I miss him dearly...
Dear Capt. and Mrs. Jeschonnek,
This will no doubt be one of the most difficult letters that I will ever have to write, although everything I want to say is very clear and organized within me. I hope you will bear with me while I stumble through it on paper.
Let me begin by thanking both of you for making it possible for Inge's and my dream of two years to come true this summer. Every minute of her stay was very much worthwhile. As you know, it turned out to be a story that one finds only in fairy tales.
Nevertheless we found ourselves very clearly in love and positive that our "fairy tale" is genuine. We both feel that it always will be.
As you may realize, for the past two years I have been in love with Inge's image — which has represented a sort of refuge from everything unhappy and unpleasant to me. I was overwhelmed when she stepped of the plane as the girl I thought she would eventually develop into, not already be. It wasn't long after that we began talking about going through life together. Believe me, we talked very seriously and objectively, although there were several times when we wanted to believe in only the moment.
I must admit, however, that one of my biggest weaknesses is that often I'm inclined to let my emotions and emotional desires run away from my intellect. But I feel that because I was obsessed with the importance of such a huge step, I was able to stop, think, and control my emotions. I often thought that love alone could provide fuel for a while — but more realistically, our future security will depend on the foundations I am building now. Since it is solely up to me to establish a financial and material future, I don't think it would be wise to waste the first of our most productive and progressive years toward our eventual goals, on an extended honeymoon.
Although in two years I still won't have financial security, I feel that this won't depend on money as much as being in a position to bargain for it. Today in America this position can only be attained by having a college degree.
This is the basic reason for our decision to wait until we both finish our education, although there are others as well. I feel that I owe it to Inge, both you and my parents, as well as myself. My parents think that it is best we wait and I'm confident you will agree — if you approve at all. I realize that it isn't fair to ask for your sanction as you don't even know me, let alone my parents. I would, though, like to know your reaction, thoughts and opinions.
After talking the situation over with Inge and my parents, we decided to have the wedding in Europe— France or Germany. This would be the only fair and proper way, where you would have an opportunity to judge me and my family for yourself. My parents said that they would do everything they could to make the trip. Don't you agree that this is best?
This letter must sound to you like I'm trying to "railroad" something through (another reason for waiting), but it's only because I love Inge so very much. I often wonder why I had to go to the other side of the world to find my heart. I realize that this does and will create many problems. But still the fact remains that we are honestly in love and there could never be anybody else.
I hope that I haven't confused you as to my actual feelings with my plebeian ways of expressing myself. I've never been in a situation such as this before and I want to do what is right for everybody concerned. Could both of you give me your feelings and advice?
Thank you mille fois for everything.