Auf Wiedersehen

1978 with Polde on Zugspitz

My uncle in Germany – my godfather – passed away yesterday, and I
still don’t quite believe it. I’ve been looking at old photo albums
and remembering what it was like to be with him.

He had a great, impish sense of humor, never too serious to crack
a smile, never afraid to be silly. In every picture of him I see
a mischievous glint in his eye, a laugh close at hand.

At his best, he was a true connoisseur of living – of life – and he
wanted to share his delight in every detail with everyone. He bought
me my first drink, at 13, and put me at the wheel of his BMW at 20.
On my visits he took me to fairy-tale destinations in Bavaria, the
Black Forest, and Switzerland. But as much as I enjoyed all of that,
what I learned most from my time with him was that the greatest
pleasures were not to be found in excess, but in having just enough.

photo: 1978 good-bye

I savor each memory, turn it over in my mind, until I can crack the
morning rolls in my hands, taste hot tea and homemade jam, smell
summer woods and moist green hills and the stones of ancient ruins…
but inevitably, I must come to the jet fuel and stale air and
gray morning of every departure, and I can’t get past the big
lump in my throat, so I linger. One more hour, one more laugh and
a glass of wine, and then it will be just enough for me.

Auf Wiedersehen, mein lieber Onkel.

Snow falls tenderly all day, bestowing a kindly forgetfulness
on all that has come before.