It was a scenic ride from Mannheim to Kaiserslautern. Another six hour train ride, from Berlin. Excitement filled me. It’s been about two years since I’ve been in Germany. A very short twelve hour stay, but this time I had four and a half days.
Dave, my cousin from New York is stationed in Ramstein Air Force base with his beautiful wife, Karen, and two daughters. Sam is graduating high school in two weeks and Jasmine is about to turn twelve. One thing you must know about my family, we are tight! No matter the distance, no matter the time apart there’s a deep bond between us all. A very strong love for one another.
When my train arrived I saw my cousin standing on the platform. He smiled, I waved. We hugged. Dave immediately noticed my limp and started ragging on me. I mean, it’s only been five days and my body is falling apart.
Karen had a plate of penne a la vodka and bread waiting for me when we walked in the house. The smell of cookies in the oven made me feel warm inside. When Sam spoke I could hear the maturity in her voice. Jasmine wrapped her arms around my waist, she was bigger. I couldn’t believe how much they’ve grown. Dave poured us a cold glass of Triple Karmeliet. Hands down the best beer I’ve had. We spent the rest of the evening catching up. They showed me pictures of their travels. It’s clear why they’re so happy.
The following morning I felt refreshed. I slept like a baby, showered and tamed this wild hair of mine. David picked me at 9:30am and took me to his job. I deeply wish I could show off the pictures of me sitting in a pilot seat of a C17, but I can’t. All I can do is brag about it. It was AWESOME! That particular aircraft has been through several combats. About fifty-four soldiers can sit along the side with room for hundreds more. I was like a kid in a candy store. I learned about C 5’s and 130’s. My jaw dropped when I was surrounded by five C17’s and American soldiers. Even caught a glimpse of troops getting debriefed.
While my cousin got some work done there was lots of drama he was dealing with that kept me very entertained. We went to lunch where I had a traditional Germany “kids” meal that was the size of a normal portion-in the states-and a liter of beer. What?! It was a lot, but I held my own. When he dropped me off at the house I took their Labrador, Duke, for a walk. When Jasmine got home she punked me into doing half her homework. Later that day, I watched Sam practice during her track meet and Jasmine play softball.
Before dinner, I always pray. Jasmine noticed and decided to join me. She put her hands together, closed her eyes and bowed her head. I asked if she wanted me to pray out loud, she shook her head yes. I can’t even tell you what that meant to me. All I want to do is show the love of God, to be a faithful servant. So, that really touched my heart. After dinner we enjoyed some cheese from The Netherlands, where I’m heading now, and a full bodied red wine from France.
The next day Karen, Dave and I went to Metz, France. They took me to the most beautiful Cathedral I have ever laid eyes on. The details, the stain glass art work, the history it held all made for a breathtaking view.
A swan I nicknamed Charlie, who kept swimming closer to me by the river, the Frambroise tart that made my mouth salivate and quiver made my first trip to France spectacular. I can’t stop eating, by the way! That’s all I want to do… Eat, eat, eat..Num, num, num…
Then Dave and Karen had to blow my mind some more. They took me to the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial where ten thousand soldiers from WWII are buried. There was a stillness to the land. Everything is kept in pristine condition. The blinding white marble tomb stones are perfectly aligned. It was a sight to see. Once we left the grounds I felt nauseous. I’m very sensitive to spirits. I read a Psalms from the Bible, it quickly passed. God Bless all those young men who laid their lives down.
Saturday was our lazy day. We spent a few hours watching Sam compete in a track event while we hid from the rain under a tent. Then we drove home, changed into our pj’s and watched Jack the Giant Slayer and The Book Thief.
For Mother’s Day Jasmine and I went to church. Then we all spent some time in Trier, the oldest town in Germany. The Cathedral was full of marble art. What took my breath away was knowing Christ’s robe was securely locked away behind a thick wall with glass doors. An opening above the door had marble baby angels watching over. It had a 3D affect. I stood there speechless.
Oh, and, we found a Dunkin’ Donuts!!
For dinner, we ate until we couldn’t move at a Brazilian restaurant. I weighed myself later that night. I’ve already gained four pounds! Dave and Karen were making sure my body stores it as fat just in case I starve out here.
Leaving today wasn’t easy. They planted seeds every day, trying to convince me to stay. And, there’s a chance I’ll be back. For now, I need to continue onward and upward.
Thank you for the incredible memories I will forever cherish and remember.