My German German teacher from 1970 has died last October at the age of 87. Since I left school in 1973 I saw him once at home in 1977, when he gave me a reference for my graduate studies at Tubingen, where he had done his PhD on Greek Tragedy, having been born in a part of Germany that, I think, is now Poland. He must have left there as an undergraduate.

I have often thought of him and occasionally, perhaps 6 or 7 times over 35 years written to him with a brief report about my development. He had been important for my thinking. Sparked my independence. In that way perhaps the closest thing to a father I ever had. But, perhaps naturally, he could not understand most of my steps later on. Perhaps even felt appalled. Oh, I did see him from afar again in 1994, attending a meeting about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, like myself.

I was surprised last night to find that the news paper of his home town, perhaps the 4th biggest news paper in West Germany, now has in their online version a digital ‘light a candle’ scheme. So I was able to leave a brief message with the candle, being the fifth person to do so since his death. The death notice in the paper gives a quote from Paul’s letter to the Romans ‘Ob wir leben oder sterben, wir sind in Gott‘ – oh well, I would not quote Romans for that. My source might rather be the poetry of Ernesto Cardenal, which I found around 1984.

My German teacher’s widow writes in the notice he had been a friend and good teacher to many, her companion for almost all her life. I remember her from my visit in 1977 as perhaps 10 years younger than him. That would make her 77 now, ten years older than myself.

not quite enough lines

to connect the dots – yet

a life touched core belief

~ by Barbara S on May 22, 2021.

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