The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

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Translation of Mother’s Poem for our Wedding

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So many followers of my blog had asked me for a translation of my mother’s wedding poem that I decided to get to work. The poem is quite poetic and uses my wife’s nickname Biene (Bee) as a metaphor for her flight from Germany to Canada in 1966. There was no way to preserve the rhyme and rhythm of this wonderful poem. The translation therefore can only give a crude impression, but at least you will know what this poem is all about.

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My Mother’s Wedding Poem loosely translated into English

It whispers here, it mutters there.

It happened to my youngest son.

He wanted to study in Canada

to get himself a really good job.

 

The exams taken in quick succession

did not bother and confuse him at all.

Also what comes now is not a lie.

Something buzzing came flying to him.

 

A little bee (Biene) tender and excited,

of a very special kind was she,

flew from the Rhine on and on,

totally joyful and spontaneous,

sometimes high and sometimes low,

almost singed her wings, oh no.

 

From Montreal to Calgary,

tireless like never before,

the little creature totally exhausted

landed at Peter’s basement door.

 

Peter showing respect for any kind of life

did not leave the insect unattended.

He took care of the Little Bee,

stroking her wings so tenderly.

 

Indeed with so much tender-loving care

she turned into a princess without delay.

A young maiden well known to me,

he took her quickly to the marriage office.

 

On the 21st of May you will be a couple.

That is clear to the people in ‘Born, Germany.

Not too long ago Peter as scout lived in tent.

And now Biene flew to him in a great hurry.

 

Here are the greetings to all the siblings

from all the uncles and all the aunts.

That all may go well wishes your mother

from the bottom of her heart.

selective focus photo of yellow sunflower

Photo by Karol Wiśniewski on Pexels.com

 

 

The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – End of Book I

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Epilogue

For our wedding on May 21, 1966, my mother wrote a touching poem, which she also spoke on tape. She was unable to attend the wedding. So Biene and I could at least listen to and enjoy her voice. Chronologically, her message belongs to Book III of the Klopp family chronicle, but her good wishes and heart-felt words are a very fitting conclusion to the trials and tribulations we had to endure before we could finally tie the knot.

The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Chapter XLII

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adventure calm clouds dawn

Biene’s Flight to Canada

“flight

1 a journey made through the air, especially a scheduled journey made by an airline

2 the action of fleeing, such as flight from turmoil

The New Oxford American Dictionary”

A Very Peculiar Itinerary

On April 6, 1966 Biene’s best friend Ulli pulled up her Mercedes at Elisabeth Street 9 to pick up Biene and her mother and drive them to the Düsseldorf Airport. Having taken the passenger liner Ryndam the year before, I was unable to give Biene any advice on the best possible airline route from Germany to Calgary. The Frankfurt International Airport  would have been a better choice. For it was then and still is one of the busiest travel centres with non-stop flights to all major destinations including Calgary. As it turned out, Biene’s odyssey with two stop-overs, one in Paris, the other one in Montreal, was going to be the last endurance test on her patience, which had already been stretched to the limit of her strength during the past twelve months.

After the final farewell and one last appeal from her mother to keep her independence (meaning not to get married), Biene stepped onto the regional plane to Paris. She was travelling light, although in those days airlines were far more generous than today with the weight of your luggage. Her suitcase contained only the most essential articles of clothing and personal effects. Perhaps her mother perceived it as a hopeful sign. The sweet illusive prospect of having her daughter back by Christmas had made her departure a little easier to bear.

In the late afternoon, Montreal time, Biene had just made herself comfortable at the window seat on the plane bound for Calgary. Tired and a bit exhausted from the long journey across the Atlantic and the tedious passport control by Immigration Canada, she let her thoughts and feelings dwell on the joyful moment awaiting her at the Calgary Airport and on the time together with me in our humble basement suite. She could barely contain her excitement mixed in with the fear of the man whom she only knew, except for a very few visits, through their three years of correspondence. Yet, it was a pleasant fear, as she described it in one of her last letters to me. She managed to calm herself knowing that the love she felt for me would overcome all fear.

Suddenly an announcement over the intercom brought her back to the immediate presence. In a calm and reassuring tone the pilot explained that due to some engine problems he would have to fly back to Montreal. When Biene looked outside, her eyes became glued in horror to the engine on the left wing. A trail of thick smoke was pouring from the defective engine. Fortunately, a short time later the plane landed safely, but caused a two-hour delay for the passengers on their flight to Calgary.

animals avian daylight ducks

Finally Together

In the meantime my brother Gerry (Gerhard) and I were getting ready to pick up Biene at the airport. The Chinook winds, which had brought spring-like weather to the city of Calgary less than a week ago, now yielded to the cold front chilling to the bones everyone who was foolish enough to venture outdoors. I was grateful to my brother and his wife Martha for providing accommodation for Biene until the time of the wedding. Biene seemed to have forgotten that this arrangement was part of the conditions we had to fulfill for getting her landed immigrant status. ‘Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.’ Times are a-changing and liberally minded people may scratch their heads nowadays and ponder in mockery and disbelief over this old-fashioned provision by Canada Immigration of the 1960’s.

At the airport we found out to our great dismay that Biene’s plane was delayed by two hours. I admired Gerry’s patience for having to wait that long before he could drive back to his home in southeast Calgary. This being Wednesday he had to work the next day. And I had a psychology lecture to attend in the morning. Shortly after midnight we were standing at the gate, through which the first bunch of travellers  were passing and were being received with cheerful hellos from friends and relatives. As their number dwindled to a trickle and the flight attendants were marching through the gate, Gerry noticed the grave expression on my face and in his own peculiar way to cheer me up remarked matter-of-factly, “Don’t worry, Peter. Biene is not coming.”

He had barely finished teasing me, when a figure, rather slim and bundled up in a black coat emerged all alone in the doorway. The fluorescent light gave her a pale appearance. But her smile upon seeing me was unmistakably Biene’s. Weaving our way through the remaining stragglers we approached each other faster and faster like driven by powerful magnets feeling the overwhelming forces of attraction every step of the way. Then we embraced and kissed each other, while Gerry looked on amazed at the sheer length of time we took just to say hello.

So it came to pass that exactly one year after we had kissed each other good-bye in Germany, Biene and I were wondrously reunited at the Calgary Airport.

End of Book I

Canoeing on Easter Sunday

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Intermission

Before I delve into the next blog series about my Aunt Anna (the eighth child of Friedrich and Emma Klopp), I would like to share a short video which I filmed on Easter Sunday. My wife and I decided to go to our beloved Taite Creek Campground and venture out for a canoe ride on the blue waters of the Arrow Lake. While my nature-loving wife was paddling,  still young at heart she was happily singing a German boating song. Enjoy.

The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Chapter XL

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A Young Man’s Anxiety about the Future

“Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”

-Noam Chomsky

Loving the Real Person, not the Fantasy Hero

March 11th, Calgary

My dear Biene,

You know me as a very cautious person, who often perceives the future as more ominous than it is. Yet now I can state with a clear conscience that I will certainly pass all my final exams in April. My academic achievements are already way above the average. In Math I collected so many percentage points that I wouldn’t need to take the final in order to pass the course. The last exam day is April 29th. Now if we were really reasonable, it would be best if you came in May, when all my studies will be over. But my desire is to see you again much sooner. Also I think it to be in our favour if you keep your fingers crossed right here close to me. It will certainly help.

Quite frankly I am getting quite a bit scared. I am really looking forward to your coming, but the burden of new responsibilities gives cause to think about many things. You must understand, Biene, why I had asked so strongly for preparedness for our great adventure. The inner bond between us must rest on solid ground. Biene, it is not the money that bothers me, but the fact as I had said before that you want to go away again, even if only for a short time. I don’t know, Biene. Call it selfishness, if you wish, but I feel it is not right what you have in mind out of love for your mother. Yet, I don’t want to dwell on it any more. I believe that your trip to the Canadian Embassy in Cologne will shed considerable light on this matter. In suspense I am awaiting your answer.

Dear Biene, I believe you that you are wearing my ring. Lately I really had to restrain myself. Often frightening thoughts are surfacing and I don’t know why. So the thought that had been tormenting me in my subconscious suddenly had slipped out. I felt a certain kind of relief afterwards, until I realized that I felt better at your expense and a few days later felt very sorry about this question.

The hero and angel from England will not appear at the Calgary Airport. But I consider myself lucky that the illusion of a superwoman has been taken away from me! Do you not also believe that it is the greatest mistake a man can commit in his ecstasy to no longer see his partner as a human being? I think that life taught me a very valuable lesson in this regard. Dear Biene, take also great care not to see more in me than reality will permit.

princess-island-park (1)ED

Peter makes a Confession

Believe me, dear Biene, I am a paragon of faithfulness in my outer conduct towards my female fellow students. However, do external actions describe the entire human being? Was I permitted to absorb with burning desire the images of womanly shapes, which enticingly passed by before me in the great lecture hall of the university?  Was it OK to sleep in my dreams with other girls than you alone? Biene, when I thoroughly examine myself and notice in the depth of my inner being the flickering of thousands of secret desires, I must confess that I have betrayed you innumerable times. To admit this dark side to oneself takes a long time. Some, alas too many deny its existence. I don’t know what kind of impression I am making on you now. I don’t know whether you are relieved to hear it or whether you will pass a moral judgment over a completely amoral matter. I said yes to myself and henceforth I am getting along with myself much better. I believe that this attitude is also the precondition to get along with others.

Recently I dreamed about you in my sleep for the first time. I wonder why I did not do this before. After all you and our future have constantly been on my mind with anxious thoughts so much so that I lay awake often for hours after my evening studies. The dream was not something of the past. No, one Saturday morning you entered my room. I threw all my books into a corner. In a long walk we passed wonderful hours ambling through the Calgary Zoo. Finally I woke up caused by the disappointment that you had suddenly disappeared.

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Tackling a Delicate Problem

The Idealist is Voicing his Opinion

Dear Biene, regarding children you found a seemingly good solution by suggesting that we should go and see a doctor together. I would like to broach this hot topic right away. The doctor will help you in no other way than to recommend to you to swallow that notorious pill. Allow me to tell you, dear Biene, why I harbour such a profound resentment against any such plan. Please do not consider me old-fashioned, when I launch an attack against this form of birth control, even though it is being hailed as a great medical success story.

I do not wish to talk about the obvious health related consequences at this time, but more importantly rather discuss the hidden psychological effects on our life together. In my view the interplay between tension and relaxation determines our creativity. Ideas are sparked by the inner tension and within the subsequent state of relaxation rests true happiness. If now by using the pill our relationship deteriorates into something rather common or even vulgar, where inner tension never surfaces and, if it does, is immediately dissolved, then – so it appears to me – our life will taste no better than lukewarm water. Therefore, Biene, let us be ‘old-fashioned’. Watch your internal calendar and if your biological clock is halfway accurate, we will find a useful solution. I strongly believe it would be far better for us to become parents than to lead such a distastefully ordinary life.

As to my studies you should know that I have practically regained the lost  years of my German army time by having started my studies here in Canada. Since I am taking senior courses in German literature, I am ahead of my Canadian fellow students in my academic placement by at least two years. So should I have to interrupt my studies next year, I could already expect to earn a fair teacher’s income.

My dear Biene, should I have used another hurtful word in my letter, please do not be offended, but let your anger burn and your wrath be directed at me.

Always in love with you,

Your Peter

calgary-zoo-L-15

Peter Contemplates a Second Opinion

March 15, 1966 Calgary

My dear Biene,

How I hate this tedious letter writing! What is being revealed in our lines is but a fraction of who we really are. And the long wait makes our hearts heavy and sad.

There are two new developments which I would like to quickly share with you. My kind professor of German literature spent two hours to discuss our problems with me in his office. For the beginning of our married life Dr. Cardinal advised against my idealistic plan of getting by without any form of birth control. He acknowledges the same danger I described to you, the danger of a shallow life style, followed later by  a complete disinterest in raising a family. Yet, according to him, this problem is more characteristic of the common person of vulgar disposition totally immersed in the pursuit of pleasure.

My professor believes that you and I have sufficient moral backbone to return to our ideals, when we will have acquired a solid financial base for raising a family. We should not shy away from taking advantage of what modern medical science can offer us. On such a complex and difficult issue I think I will have to sleep on it for a while.

Dr, Cardinal expressed his envy in a good-natured way for our happiness. He said that he regrets that he married so late and had listened to his mother. Her opinion was that at the age of 23 he was still too immature to get married.

He also believes that it is sometimes necessary to foster illusions with your parents to alleviate the pain of the final farewell. In that sense he is partly in agreement with you and even justifies your actions. As you can see, Dr. Cardinal has been like a father to me. He asked me to pass on his kindest regards and he is looking forward to meeting you.

Now quickly to the second news item: I have been very busy looking for a small apartment for us. I found out that the Italian family upstairs will be moving out soon. I had a good look at the apartment and immediately fell in love with it. Mind you, it has not been painted for years, but I saw the potential of what we could do with it. The rent is only $55. It is like a large doll house, but large enough for two people. There is also a basement suite available in the neighbourhood, which I will have to check out in the next couple of days. As you can see, I have been busy in the search of a more pleasant living space for the two of us. If only the dumb thoughts and worries about our future would leave me alone!

Always in love with you! Your Peter

The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Chapter XXXIX

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Biene Hitting Rock Bottom

“I think this is what we all want to hear: that we are not alone in hitting the bottom, and that it is possible to come out of that place courageous, beautiful, and strong.” – Anna White

Biene in Distress

February 6th,1966, Velbert

My beloved Peter,

I have not been feeling well for quite some time. I must come quickly to you. Every day I am expecting news from the embassy. I received my first salary today and now have saved up over a thousand marks.

family157

Biene wrote this letter at the back of this early Picasso card.

At the moment I feel so depressed that I am not as strong as you would like me to be. But this time will also pass. I don’t want to see anybody and yet I have to put up a nice front every day, which is getting on my nerves. I feel totally run down. But Peter, I must quickly come to you. Do not be distressed; otherwise I become really sick.  Hopefully my father didn’t write you anything bad. I can’t take it any more! Dear Peter, if you don’t lose your trust in me, I will find it also again in me.

After all I belong to you! Your Biene

February 13th, 1966, Velbert

My dear Peter,

In what kind of painful unrest must you have been through my silence! Peter, please forgive me. Now I feel better, and it seems to me as if I had gone through a dangerous illness. Peter, my nerves and my entire being were completely out of balance to the point that I had almost lost myself in something at the end, which would have ruined our entire life. But now I have overcome this weakness and I feel my faith and strength return again. How I yearn for that day, when the long wait will be over! O Peter, I am ashamed of myself that I almost did not succeed in fending off the insidious indifference, which suddenly appeared as an enticing way out. But now, Peter, you need not be worried about me any more. I only hope that you are fine and that no treacherous temptations seek to lure you, when you suffer too much from loneliness.

When I am with you, Peter, it would be perhaps best to go and see a doctor to get some professional advice. For I feel we should not have a baby for the first little while. Do you think, he might be able to help us?

My dear Peter, when you are lonesome, always think that one day it will be like in Michelbach again, where together we were happy and sad. And for our wedding, Peter, we two drink a bottle of Moselle wine just like we did on that evening in the thunder and lightning storm.

All my desires and dreams still live in me and still have the same power.

Yours in love, Biene

Three Options for Biene

February 25th, Calgary

My dear Biene,

Actually I was less disquieted by your letter than I had expected to be. Perhaps the reason for that is that the time for your arrival is approaching and that many problems will go away on their own. For unity with his nature a man can only achieve in marriage, and in it rests the possibility of our happiness. This thought allowed me to go steadfastly through the last couple of months, although I always felt the temptations, about which you have written me. You once spoke of the great assurance of the protective effect of my ring. I sometimes wonder, if in the presence of your parents, relatives, and friends you are still wearing it.

Even though I am no longer fearful about the dangerous uncertainty, my main concern still is that you want to come to me and leave your parents about your true intentions in the dark. I am sensing that this weakness will be the beginning of never ending problems. Therefore, I ask you to let me clarify this point for you. Let me write to your parents that

  1. you will fly to me in the spring and look at land and people,
  2. decide to marry me and stay
  3. or fly home and don’t marry me.

Please write me a clear yes or no. Each way shall be OK with me. Take your time.  For it is an important decision. Dear Biene, what I need here is an emotionally stable wife, who rather spurs me on to stay than to beg me, driven by homesickness, to return to Germany. I would also like you to have the courage to fight for the love, which you esteem so highly, and defend it.

At Christmas you condemned my letter to your parents so quickly and asked me to apologize. I heard of women, who followed their husbands out of love, although they knew that they had done something wrong. And at Christmas I had only wanted your best! O Biene, could you only this time be resolute and tell me to write this letter to your parents. I would be a lot happier then. Otherwise your mother’s solution would be the best way out. All parties except you perhaps would be content. Of course, you will still have to convince the ambassador that you wish to thoroughly study the country first, before you decide to take Canada as your new home country and marry me. That decision would be all right for me considering that I have to jump over the next hurdle – English was the first – as student teacher at the local high schools. For to marry, then seeing my wife fly away again, spending huge amounts of money, never mind who pays for it, I see all this in its total senselessness in the highest degree as cause for inner strain, which I must avoid at all cost now and in the near future.

My dear Biene, you see therefore either way is fine with me. You can decide for one or the other without fear, because no answer will hurt my feelings. But in secret I still hope you would go for the first one, because I wish that you become my wife.

Always in love with you!

Your Peter

Calgary-WebA (1)

City of Calgary – Photo Credit: http://www.moneysense.ca

Peter’s receives Papa Pankin’s Letter

February 28th ,Calgary

My beloved Biene,

My brother Gerry just brought me your father’s letter. From his point of view he is completely right, yet I cannot agree with him, because his ideas belong to an antiquated world. He writes that a husband must be able to support (feed was the word he used) his wife. Today most marriages begin with both working together. He writes that Calgary is the end of the world, because he still believes that Germany is the centre of the universe. Just imagine, how strange, he believes that I am abducting you to Canada. I could only smile about this statement For isn’t it your greatest desire to come to me? I was also puzzled about his paradoxical attitude that I could marry you if I had a lot of money. However, since I am as poor as a church mouse, he believes it to be irresponsible on his part to lend us any financial support.

My dear Biene, do not worry. I am not angry at your father’s answer. I only wish that you come soon.

Yours in love, Peter

IMG_3641Book of Dreams

Two Pages from the Book of Dreams

Biene is going to the Canadian Embassy

March 7th , Velbert

My dear Peter,

In two days I am going to Cologne. I am all excited and also glad. Do you remember the day, when you came from Cologne and we two traveled together to your mother’s place in Watzenborn. Our farewell was still ahead of us and now comes our reunion. How many days, often sad days, lie between! I am longing for the day of my departure and I am looking forward to seeing you again so much. As always I am also a little afraid. But it is a pleasant fear. What will be all ahead of us, Peter! Do you really believe that I don’t wear your ring at home? I never ever took it off, Peter. You must believe me; otherwise you really hurt me. Although sometimes it may have appeared to you that I was not as strong at home as I had promised in England, you must not lose faith in me, Peter.

Right now the first warm spring days have arrived and the pleasant anticipation to be with you is beginning to thaw my inner frozenness, which has held my feelings captive for the last little while.

As soon as I am back from the embassy, I will write you in greater details and will also answer your question to your last letter.

In love, Your Biene

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