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September 21, 1992

LETTER  TO MY GRANDCHILDREN AND MY GREAT GRANDCHILDREN 


Today, 25 years ago, I immigrated from Munich, Germany, to St. Louis, Missouri, USA.  Of course I don't live there anymore - many stops in between - i.e. Illinois, Florida, Colorado, Rhode Island, California and last but not least, Arizona. And I am certain there are more to follow. Each State and Home had their beauty, marriages (!!), illnesses - 25 years accumulate a lot of memories!  My eyes have seen personal tragedies as well as worldwide drastic changes.  History will teach you in school. 

But I like to leave some of my own thoughts behind of how I felt about leaving my whole family and country to pursue what I had thought was the only thing I could do, to follow my big love Garry Dean Malone (father of Monika Pamela Malone) to the *land of plenty* - America.  To be honest, there was also a big part of adventurism in my heart as well as the need to get away from the somewhat restrictive environment of my family.  Besides *leaving the homeland to seemingly greener pastures* seems to have run in my family blood, at least from my fathers side.  As you can tell from the family bible, my father Otto Hellmuth Georg Max Gastel as well as his brother Harald Gastel, immigrated to another country - Argentina.  My uncle supposedly remained with his new found family in Argentina, however, my father returned September 2, 1938 to Germany.  Needless to say at a very unfortunate era, since Adolf Hitler and WW II were just looming around the corner.  But if he would not have come back there would have been no little me!  I just got very startled about this particular day of September 21.  How ironic, I never knew, my father left on the same day and month as I did, only, of course, in a different year.  This must have been fate ... I am the spitting image of my father, who celebrated his 90th birthday this year and which I attended. 

But what were my thoughts about leaving my mother, my country, my roots?  Guilty, guilty, guilty!  If I would have known what I know now (sorry to have to come up with that old cliche), I would have never left.  The uprooting was too painful and I paid a high price for it: my physical as well as my emotional well being!  I never could feel that I was really at home anywhere anymore and worse, when I go back to visit Germany, I feel estranged also.  This particular feeling is nothing special, every first immigration generation has to go through this pain but some take it harder than others.  Throughout the years, *my* Germany was the one I was looking through kids eyes, well, I spent my first 23 years there, and my 25 adult years in the U.S.  Opinions are formed, dreams are nourished and especially the past becomes sometimes glamourized - as always.  And so I only want to remember my country as it was when I was little, when my world still *seemed* to be intact and where I could hold on to my mother for my well being. The Christmas'es, Birthdays, Mothersdays, Easter, so very special and traditional in Southern Bavaria, so close to my beloved mountains: the Alps.  At these time I do get homesick, but not for the present, but for the past when I was an innocent child.  And so do feel million of others...  I have to admit when I go back visiting Germany these days I feel very estranged; besides the unbelievable growth of cities and towns, the people have become so aggressive, angry and what used to be only Germans are now a melting pot of all nations of the world.  I thought this only could happen in America but Europe is changing drastically and everybody wants to cash in on Germany.  Although it is nice to visit my family -lots of uncles, aunts and cousins- it hurts to see them aging, fading away, dying.  I cannot accept it and I feel so far removed from that particular reality.  To me, everything stopped 25 years ago when I left.  It is definetely an eerie feeling.  But then, I am a very complex person ... 

But I also do love America, an incredible beautiful but complex country, of which I have seen a lot.  It took quite some adjusting to its different lifestyles and thinking, the lack of security I was used to in Germany, the weather, the culture, you name it, all of it was a shock to my system.  But it was so alive, so vibrant and here we go again, very adventurous.  By living in all in these different states I have experienced the most beautiful sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico in Florida (the humidity was tough!), the wilderness of the Rockies in Colorado, the European like Rhode Island, the lushness of Californias flora, the grandious landscapes of Arizona - The Wild West in particular.  I have to admit, I am inspired by mother nature and its beauty, I love flowers, animals and definetely have an eye for beauty; most of all, I am a dreamer, I always was.  I am very involved with fine art, books, crossword puzzles, piano playing (classical and blues, however, not too good at it), lately also computers - and love travelling most of all. I am afraid of flying though and therefore prefer the car!  Makes it kind of difficult to go to Germany that way! :-)  When it comes to people I am somewhat reserved - basically I am a loner.  

I am not much interested in cooking, but I am very particular with my household.  I rather spend time with my hobbies, i.e. cross stitching -perhaps just a fad right now, but fun. Two years ago I got involved in silk flower arranging, mainly baskets and wreaths, and I had talent which I never thought I had.  I would like to try painting next. 

Dear Grandchildren, I hope I have given you a little insight of your German roots and I do hope that you will pass down some of the tradition I am so very fond of, i.e. celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve.  And it would also please me very much, if any of you could find it in your heart to name some of your daughters *Claudine* after my great grandmother and perhaps *Brigitte* after me, so that I can live through and with you. 

Thank you and may God bless all the generations to come and don't forget me ... 

With lots of love,
Ingeborg Brigitte Gastel Lloyd
Scottsdale, Arizona


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