Family, after the loss of his wife, encourage Michael to follow family roots to Germany.
Chapter 1: Transition 6
Revised: June 27, 2019
Chapter 1 - Transition
By Rudi Pappotte
Michael Simon looked once again at the family chart laying before him on his desk. A sigh arose from deep in his body. He missed his wife, his greatest friend, and companion. He looked longingly at the chart. "What is this showing me?" he thought. Rachel would know. Next to the chart lay a response to a recent correspondence to Germany. He remembered he and Rachel sent a list of questions regarding possible German ancestry.
The letter was a reply to a letter written to the Cathedral of Brunswick. "Yes," Frau Hoffman, a librarian of the Cathedral archives, wrote. The name "Simon" at one time was spelled "Symon." Included in the letter were several references to possible family records going back as far as the 13th century. "Rachel would have been excited," Michael mused.
Looking back to the chart his gaze fell on Rachel's name. His eyes moved immediately to his wife's picture on the corner of his desk; her blue eyes smiled into his. Michael knew what she was going to say. For some reason, the thought penetrated to the very core of his soul. After 32 years of marriage, Rachel lost her battle with cancer just a year and a half earlier. Michael drew from her strength. Her memory brought a tear to his eye, but today was different. He was no longer depressed, simply determined to move forward with his life. He looked up from the chart on the table with a grin. He still loved her. Nothing would change that. Calming assurance surrounded him like Rachel's arms.
Gooseflesh rose on his arms as a brush of air mysteriously moved by his face. He looked up. The room was empty. He smiled. She had always encouraged him in his search for family history. "Go and find them. Go to Europe. Search out your father's line. I will always be with you. You need those memories too."
Michael shuddered as he looked away from the chart for a moment. A light touch pressed his shoulder. Again he glanced around. Seeing nothing, Michael looked back at the chart remembering family encouragement. He made a firm decision to do what Rachel asked. He would research his family which continued back through endless ages. He would find strength in knowing them. Michael could, through Rachel's memory, a palpable presence, begin a journey to connect the past and look to his future. "I will tell their story." He assured her.
The large open plate window of his university office looked out over the center of campus from a third-floor space. Michael stood to the right of his desk, his library of books and research behind him and looked into the sunshine. Below him, visible through the window, students hurried to class. It was spring and classes would soon be over. Michael knew he would miss the everyday routine. Too, he would miss the daily counseling sessions with students. He would travel to Germany during the summer break to review German literature as well as follow his passion for family history. Michael, now 53, looked forward to a summer sabbatical abroad to continue the research he and Rachel had started together.
There was a knock at the door. Michael moved to the solid Oak door of his office. He opened it to find his son, Gary, grinning broadly. "Hi, Dad, time to go."
"Yes. It is." Michael responded as he embraced his son with a big hug. Michael moved back to the open window and shut it. Grabbing the bag next to his desk and looking one more time around the room, he followed Gary closing the door as he left. Shivers of excitement for the journey ahead overwhelmed him for a moment. He held back a whoop, instead letting out a happy sigh as he moved towards the hallway staircase.
Hearing the noise come from his father, Gary stopped briefly and looked back over his shoulder, "You all right?"
"Yes, I am." Michael said with a smile.
Gary's car was parked only a short distance from his father's office. Popping the trunk, Gary placed his father's bag inside then walked to the driver's door while motioning Michael to the front passenger door, "You're riding in front with me."
Michael smiled at Vivian, Gary's wife seated in the back seat, and cheerfully opened the front, passenger door. Sitting beside his son Michael turned and greeted Vivian. "Hello. Thanks for letting me ride shotgun." Squaring back to the front he said with a charge in his voice, "Let's go," slapping Gary's leg.
He was on his way. His mind, however, continued to check his to do list. Only the movement of the car off the freeway, and the sound of Gary's turn signal pulled Michael's thoughts back to his trip to Germany. He was reminded of the deep research he and Rachel had done. Every seemingly random turn pointed towards Germany as his ancestral home. All of their previous searching, all of the books and stories of the past they had done together would honor Rachel through this journey. Michael was on his way to find his roots.
As Gary's car pulled up to the departure curb, Michael mused over the work Gary and Vivian had done in booking his flight and accommodations in Germany. He was well aware in his state of mind only a few weeks back, this would not have been completed by himself. "Gary, thank you for getting the tickets squared away."
"Not a problem, Dad. Vivian and I are just excited to see the color back in your face; hell, the excitement in your step too." Gary paused briefly. "Well, Dad, next stop London," He said with a smile.
"Then to Parchim and on to Brunswick," Michael quipped, patting his coat pocket.
In the back seat, Vivian chuckled and simply responded, "Yes, to London."
Gary placed his father's bag beside Michael on the sidewalk. The smile on his father's face almost made him laugh, "You're like a kid in a candy shop," he said chuckling. "Dad, you have a great time. I know you have been looking forward to this, so go forth and conquer," he kidded.
"Thank you, son, and thank you too he said," turning to his daughter-in-law, Vivian, as she climbed out of the back seat.
Gathering herself she smiled, "You're very welcome." She wrapped her arms around Michael, gave him a good hug and stepped back. "Yes. Go forth and conquer!" she quipped with that same smile.
Gary and Vivian stood near their car at the curb, hand in hand. They waived while watching as Michael headed through the terminal departure doors. Michael stopped briefly, turned, smiled and waved, "Auf wiedersehen."
Michael looked at his watch as he stood at check-in for his flight. He passed through security and customs with no problems. He chuckled, remembering a lady in line ahead of him at security who passed through the detector twice and then through search. Each time she revealed either jewelry, a cell phone, or a Wi-Fi earpiece she had omitted from the luggage scan. "I guess she was in a hurry or spacing out," He mused whispering to himself. He chuckled with the remembrance that by the time she finally passed through, her cheeks were a cherry red.
After customs, Michael found a comfortable seat. "Do not leave bags unattended in the waiting area," a monotone voice repeated over and over again."
"You would think people would get it after a while," he smirked. The airport was a sea of constant sound. "It sure wasn't meant for any kind of rest," continuing under his breath.
Michael glanced at his surroundings. Across the way, he could see a cafe. A long line of people waited to get their last cup of coffee before boarding the long flights. Michael skipped the coffee; he just wanted to sleep, if he could, on his flight, besides, his flight would not leave for some time.
Pulling his carry-on to him and opening the front pocket, he found Frau Hoffman's letter. Michael pulled it out of the pocket. Besides the letter referring to the alternate spelling of the family name, a curious note on a separate sheet of paper referring to a Johan Hans Symon was attached. Possibly a family connection existed. Mysteriously the note indicated a further connection to someone referred to as "Flechter." Also included was a list of children's names. Those names were Anna, Yakov, Closgen, and Julia. A mother was not mentioned. Michael sat back in his seat and thought, "Flechter" what a curious addition to his research. His visit to the Cathedral in Brunswick and to Frau Hoffman, if he could find her, would definitely open another chapter to his work.