I have the most memories
of our third home in Germany
in Offenbach am Main.
Not only do I remember the rooms in the house,
but sights, sounds and experiences within those rooms—
lying in bed across the room from my brother
listening to Dad listen to Armed Forces radio
getting ready for work in the bathroom across the hall,
lying awake in bed across that room from my brother
unable to go to sleep on Christmas Eve,
sliding down the stairs with my siblings on our rumps,
Christmas, the stereo and TV specials in the living room,
staying up late or waking up
to watch the neighbors next door and across the street
set off fireworks on New Year’s Eve,
meals in the kitchen (more than the dining room),
breaking the window to the basement door with a soccer ball,
climbing the cherry trees, racing pedal push vehicles
down the hill along the side of the house with my sister and brother,
learning to ride a bike on the sidewalk in front,
walking to the corner to catch the school bus
for the hour long ride to the International School in Oberursel,
eating the neighbor’s strawberries
until the time I bit into one to see half a worm!
And as I was looking at that house—
still in the car, parked across the street,
a woman drove up to park right behind us.
And I got out to ask her if she were a member
of the family that used to live right across from us—
which initially prompted an expression of some apprehension(!),
but an affirmative answer.
And I introduced myself (what fun surprise!),
and we reminisced and caught up (a little).
They had had a German Shepherd and two dachshunds
when we lived there,
and she introduced me to her current dachshund
(her “Dackel”), Mickey.
She was now a cancer survivor, she said,
and marked by that experience.
It had been hard,
but things were better now.
We took pictures in her back yard,
and after meeting my wife and daughters,
she asked about my parents, sister and brother,
and told me a family now lived in our old house
with three children and a mom from the U.S.!
And we left
with a sense of old roots still buried deep
there at Willemer Strasse # 9.