This is a story I wanted to write about but was not sure how to put into words the experience. Growing up I was always interested in my German grandmothers, Anna Burghardt, life and what it was like to live through World War 2. I never really asked my grandmother questions and I regret that. If you have living grandparents please ask them questions before it is too late.
When I started researching and looking into my German family I struggled to learn anything new. You can read more about my journey into German genealogy here, https://ellajaneanne.home.blog/2019/06/30/my-journey-into-german-genealogy/
I had the most wonderful opportunity to travel to Germany in 2017 and visit the town of Kassel, where my grandmother lived. As we drove into the town and toward our hotel, I was so excited and just tried to take in all the sights. We checked into the hotel and then decided to eat lunch at the hotel. Our hotel was on the Fulda River and had some beautiful views.
As we sat down to dinner there was a band playing across the river and the John Denver song, Take me home, country road came playing softly across the river. I looked at my husband as tears came down my cheeks. Why you ask? My grandmother grew up in Germany, her family was from Germany, as far back as I have been able to trace. My grandfather was in the US Air Force and was stationed in Kassel Germany after World War 2, where he met my grandmother. Can you guess where my grandfather was from? If you guessed West Virginia, you are correct. My grandfather Ernest Kenneth Rhodes was born 4 June 1930 in Ripley, West Virginia. Sadly I never asked him how he met my grandmother. I did ask my mom and she said that my grandfather went into a cafe and saw my grandmother and fell in love.
Ernest and Anna married 16 October 1954 in Kassel, Germany. When my grandmother passed away, my grandfather told me she was the love of his life and watching him grieve was heartbreaking. They had been married for 59 years. How I miss them. My grandfather passed away on 8 September 2016. I was able to ask about his family and get some information.
As I sat by the river that day, with tears running down my cheek, feeling like my grandparents were there with me that day and how happy they were that I was in Germany learning more about the place my grandmother lived and where they meet and fell in love. I will never forget this feeling or experience I had. I have always dreamed about visiting Germany and learning about my heritage but what I received that day was more than I could have hoped for. I received confirmation that our ancestors are with us and they are part of who we are.