This past October, my family said goodbye to my Opa, Waldemar Adam.
I exist because he was extraordinary. A few paragraphs cannot begin to convey the richness of his legacy: his humor, quick wits, stubbornness, courage, and love.
He risked his life and left freedom behind as he slipped into East Germany after the war to reunite with his love, Irma. Years later, unwilling to raise his family within the confines of Communism, he and Irma left behind family and farm, with only the clothes on their backs and their three small children. They risked everything for the chance to raise their children in the United States.
His tenacity was evident through the very end. He cracked jokes with the nurses in the ICU. He made up his mind to walk across his hospice room. And then, his beautiful, stubborn, 91-year old heart finally gave up beating.
I am grateful that I could hear just a few more stories and kiss him good-bye the day before he died.
My life, its fact and its substance, is his gift to me.
The feet that trekked across Europe may now be feeble--
Unable to offer support.
But the courage that left behind home and family in search of freedom remains.
Soon this courage will usher him into another freedom --
freedom from the frail feet.
The garden may be fallow.
The work bench unused.
The industriousness of a lifetime forced into an uncomfortable quiet.
The love that held his wife's hand for over sixty-seven years remains.
This love that sacrificed for and supported his children continues and grows
in the love that his boys have poured into their children,
and in the love that the grandchildren pour into the great-grandchildren.
In a love that spills over into this world.