The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

Reflections on Life, Family and Community

Chapter 36 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part III


Hoodoos above the Bow River

Biene’s Dilemma

It was New Year’s Eve. I kept reading her letter over and over again, but it did not help to calm me down. In fact the turn of events stirred me up more than her brother’s argumentative diatribe in the fall. In my tortured mind I saw everything that deviated from the course of action we had agreed on as a betrayal of our dreams. Through the dark lens in my anguished soul I gazed at gloomy images that made everything she described feel like a bad omen. The heart-warming reception with roses and violets at the airport was for me a well orchestrated attempt to strengthen the threads in the web, out of which Biene would find it difficult to break free. I also found it strange that one letter on her desk turned suddenly into two letters and that her mother would recognize it only now, which was clearly addressed to Frau Elisabeth Panknin. Nor could I understand why my so lovingly written letter could have insulted her so much. It contained only kind words. I admit I did plead with her to let Biene go in peace. But to make this single sentence, which expressed my deepest love and concern for Biene, the actual cause of a complete turnabout in her attitude towards our wedding plans was in my view a travesty of her true intentions.

Ultimately it bothered me the most that Biene told me that because of her new job, which had not even started yet, she would not to find the time to write as often as before. Clearly she wanted to keep me in the dark. That was my painful conclusion. I felt a surge of angry revolt take hold of my heart. I threw myself on my bed and stewed over the new situation for a very long time. There was not a single word about getting married in the spring. On the contrary, in an effort to appease her family she had already made a major concession. She wanted to come for a year to find out if she could stand it to live in Canada. The once comforting words she once wrote from England were beginning to mock me, “Even if you were as poor as a church mouse, I would still come to you, because I love you.” Had our love not been tested enough? Why all of a sudden was there talk about a trial period to see if she could be happy in Canada?

What I did not realize while I was tossing and turning on my bed was that she was confronted with one the greatest dilemmas in her life. On the one side was her mother, who loved her dearly and who did not want her to go away into a distant land, to marry into an uncertain future and become unhappy. On the other side was I, the man, whom she loved and wanted to marry. For her there seemed to be no other way to get out of this conflict than to play a dangerous game of deception. If she had only revealed to me that she needed to keep her mother in the belief that she would be able to retain her independence and freedom, while she was only visiting me until next Christmas, I would have cooperated and she would have spared me the distress I was in. A short message would have sufficed to keep me in the loop. All I needed was a word of reassurance that nothing would change in our plans. But no matter how often I read Biene’s letter, I found no such comfort and I was deeply worried.

35 thoughts on “Chapter 36 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part III

  1. arv!

    worry and suspense are not exactly the best of a situation but sometimes that’s how it is. At the same time, for her to take a big leap must have been difficult too!


  2. Pure Glory

    What conflict and despair. Communication is not always clear.It is hard to try to please everyone because it cannot be done. Oh, the twists and turns of love from a long distance!


  3. taphian

    In this post I can see that Biene’s mother was only worried for the happyness of her daughter but it was a bit selfish, too, to keep her at home and not to support her independence and to be sure that everything would be fine in future. Just another generation, dear Peter. Have a nice weekend, kind regards from Hamburg, Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      I agree it was quite a bit selfish for Biene’s mother to create all these obstacles. In her defence one should note that from her point of view, uncertainty for Biene’s future and happiness were foremost on her mind. The other factor not mentioned in our correspondence was that Biene’s parents did not know me personally. I was like a phantom suitor from a distant land. Thank you, Mitza, for your kind and thoughtful comment! You too have a nice weekend! Peter

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amy

    As a mother of two daughters, I certainly understand how her mother felt. I also would be bereft if my daughters moved thousands of miles away with an ocean between us. But the romantic in me aches for you, confused, angry, and feeling betrayed. Did you ever talk by phone back then? Was it just too expensive? I am sure hearing her voice would have helped you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      To have a phone in Germany in 1965 was a luxury, which very few people could afford, whereas not to have a phone in Canada was considered a handicap. Thank you, Amy, to lend some support to Biene’s mother! It was not just a distant country (quite worrisome indeed), but the fact that I was an unknown person to her and the rest of the family. Thank you for her heart-felt feelings, Amy!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. corneliaweberphotography

    That this must have been very painful for you Peter. I didn’t realize that Biene’s parents have never met you, so you were like a phantom for them from a distant country on the other side of the world. And was torn in between, her desire to be with you and her mother not willing to let go of her daughter. When I came over to the US, in 1990 my mother was beside herself, that I made the decision to be with the man I was in love with, and my parents haven’t met my husband to be than, well I was about 37 years young than. Until her death she never forgave me that I moved away to a different continent, although she came once with one of my brothers to visit us in her late age. Well in a way she had projected her unhappiness on to me and I found peace in that. Have a great weekend Peter, soak up the spring sunshine.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Thank you, Cornelia, for sharing your experiences of the time, when you decided to follow the man you loved and leave Germany! There are similarities in your story. But there is one important difference: your story did not have a happy ending as far as your mother is concerned. After only two years Biene’s mother and the entire family were very happy and acknowledged that we had made the right choice. With the arrival of the first grandchild and subsequent visit to Germany the ice was broken. I feel sad that your mother could never forgive you for immigrating to the States. Have a beautiful and peaceful weekend! Peter


      1. corneliaweberphotography

        Peter thank you for your feedback. In a way my story had a simi happy ending, because after my mother had passed I got to read some of her diary writings and than I realized that she wasn’t happy with her life later on and I understood that’s why she reacted to me so tough, so I found peace with her. That is such a wonderful gift that the ice broke with the arrival of your first child. Thank you Peter.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Edda

    Eure ganze Liebesgeschichte hätte die Grundlage für ein spannendes Buch werden können, Peter.. Immer, wenn man denkt, nun haben die beiden “Hauptakteure” das Schlimmste überstanden, kommt noch ein Tief und kommen noch mehr Schwierigkeiten…Und Biene hat immer versucht, keinem weh zu tun und nach Lösungen zu suchen, die für alle akzeptabel sein könnten.Das war doppelt schwer für sie!! Und Du hast ja auch alles dafür getan,, daß sie so bald wie möglich bei Dir sein konnte. Da fällt mir unwillkürlich das Lied von den “Königskindern” ein..
    Beide habt Ihr es sehr schwer gehabt.Aber, wie gesagt, Bienes Eltern haben ja auch große Ängste ausgestanden. Aber ich finde, mit finanziellen Konsequenzen zu drohen, war doch sehr , sehr hart Biene gegenüber..
    Es wäre um einiges leichter gewesen, wenn Ihr Euch alle schon einmal vor Deiner “Abreise” kennengelernt hättet, stimmt’s?

    Alles Gute auch weiterhin für Dich Peter, Du scheinst Dich gut zu erholen. Grüße auch Biene herzlich von uns!


    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Wie eng Biene mit ihrer lieben Mutter verbunden war, wird sich in den folgenden Episoden noch deutlicher zeigen. Und das war natürlich Bienes Problem, sie konnte einfach, so wie du richtig erkannt hast, keinem Weh tun, die ihr nahe standen. Natürlich hätte es geholfen, wenn ihre Eltern mich kennengelernt hätten. Doch dann blieb immer noch das ferne Kanada als Hindernis übrig.
      Gott sei Dank, es geht mir nun immer besser und ich arbeite schon viel im Garten, beschneide the Obstbäume, etc.
      Ganz liebe Grüße von Peter und Biene!


  7. kopfundgestalt

    The only thing that comes to my mind is that you were missing friends to talk to. It’s essential to clarify such worries you had with someone who understands the situation.
    A relationship based on letters and to add to it letters which don’t come frequently is a bad thing. Obviously she couldn’t imagine your feelings and worries, otherwise she would have sent you twice a day letters with just a couple of sentences.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      That is a very good point, Gerhard. If I had such one good friend to share my experiences, it would have made a difference and could have made me look at the problems in a more tolerable light. Thank you very much for your insightful comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ann Coleman

    I can’t imagine how hard this period in your lives much have been so hard on both of you! And I agree with the comment above, that it would have helped you immensely to have a friend you could talk to during this time. It’s hard to be rational about someone you love, especially when you feel that your plans aren’t going to come true!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      I tried to put myself into my chaotic self of some fifty years ago. While now in 100% agreement with Gerhard’s comment and also yours, I have come to the conclusion that even if I had had a friend to discuss the problems I was experiencing, I most likely would have been too shy to share these very private matters with anybody. In hindsight of course this would have been the right thing to do. Best wishes! Peter

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ann Coleman

        I believe you are right, it would have been too hard to talk about something so personal. But I am so glad to know this story has a happy ending, otherwise it would be too sad to think about!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. thecedarjournal

    This story is always heartwarming to me. You have written so well the pain of potential loss, the feelings of deep felt love, and the moments of loneliness and being tested. We all have a journey and we all complete that journey in our own way. Having friends is always helpful but I know that I have withheld information from friends in the past as it was too painful to pass along at the time. In your case I think that might have also been true. What a gift you have given us by writing this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      You put it so well when you said, ‘We all have a journey and we all complete that journey in our own way.’ On closer examination, while our journey may have similarities with other people’s journeys, it is unique and worth sharing with others. Thank you for your encouraging words! They are very much appreciated.


  10. Ankur Mithal

    Today we take communication and travel for granted. But, in the era these events took place, it was not so. Distance greatly reduced the opportunity of communication and contact. One couldn’t just hop onto a plane and reach anywhere in a few hours. And this was bound to lead to issues of different kinds for the various people involved, as you have captured.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Stella, oh, Stella

    I felt all the ups and downs with you while reading. You write so very well!
    I can actually feel empathy with most of the players, just not with the blackmailers. One simply does not do that to people one claims to love (I mean here the way Biene’s father threatened her. How can he say to his daughter that he would rather travel elsewhere four times than to Canada once to see her? He was supposed to be the adult, right?)

    I admit that I cannot really relate to the family problem, because I didn’t have strong ties to my parents.

    I do admire your mothers attitude towards letting her children go. I mean four of you emigrated. Did you have any siblings who stayed in Germany? She must have been a very special person!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Bun Karyudo

    This part of your story made me reflect on how much the world has changed, Peter. It has been fascinating to follow your and Biene’s correspondence from this critical time in your relationship. I’ve been impressed by how heartfelt and movingly written your letters to each other were. Still, condensing many long hours of anxious reflection into a few dozen handwritten lines could not have been easy. I imagine there must have been a great deal of agonizing over what to say, how to say it and what to leave unsaid. Despite all this care, the potential for misunderstanding must have been great indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Thank you, Bun, for your words of profound insight and wisdom! In times of crisis there will always be misunderstandings no matter how careful we are in our communication with each other. Then there is the significant delay in time between the letters. Today an email can clarify a problem area almost instantly. Unfortunately, we lived in an era of the snail mail.

      Liked by 1 person

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