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Our Story

Where and when it all began.

By Helen KellerPublished 6 years ago 10 min read

From Fairytale to Nightmare

What started off as a beautiful, romantic fairytale love story, turned into a horrifying and devastating nightmare.

It all started back in 1979. It was the start the summer holidays. First year of high school was coming to an end, and I was getting my railroad track braces off two days before a family trip to Germany. I was so excited to get these braces off and to be able to display my beautiful new straight teeth. The braces have truly changed my smile for the better.

Bags were packed, car was loaded, and off to the airport the four of us went, my parents and my stepsister. My brother decided not to come with us, however, during our three week trip, he decided to get married. But that’s another story.

Arriving in Germany, we spent much of our time travelling to different parts, exploring many places, and enjoying the culture and food, and of course visiting family, friends, and relatives. As the trip came to an end, it was discussed that I would remain in Germany at my Oma’s for the duration of the summer holidays. It was a sad departure on the day my parents and sister returned to Canada, but also a new found independence for me.

So now I’m in Germany at age 14 soon to be 15 with my grandmother. What is a teenager to do in a small German town? My Uncle decided to introduce me to the daughter of one of his employee’s (Barbara). Well Barbara and I hit it off from the start, and to this day, she is still one of my best friends.

I also discovered that every weekend during the summer the surrounding towns took turns having Beer Festivals. So every weekend you were in a different town enjoying that town's specially brewed beer.

At one festival in particular, I met my future husband, Hans Enders. Yes that’s right. I met my future husband in Germany at the tender age of 14. I remember this very clearly. I remember thinking wow he’s really cute. I remember him eyeing me and sitting down beside me. Well one thing lead to another and before we knew it, we were kissing. This wonderful young man was teaching me, a 14-year-old, how to French kiss. He taught me how to use my tongue while kissing. It was magical. I was in love.

Unfortunately there was a huge age difference. I was 14 almost 15 and he had already turned 20. I think as soon as he discovered my age, he backed off, which thinking back now, was very respectful.

Sadly the summer holidays came to an end and I had to return to Canada, but I never stopped thinking about those wonderful kisses from this beautiful man.

Now, fast-forward 13 years. We are now in 1992. I travelled back to Germany for my cousin's wedding.

Again Barbara and I were reunited and I went with her to the community fitness centre for a class. As we were entering, Hans was leaving. He just finished playing handball. We met and briefly talked. We arranged to see each other at the local pub that a few of us were going to that evening.

We all met at the pub and played a drinking game that was common in Germany or at least in Bischofsheim. It consisted of a dice, a couple shots of whiskey, one cigar, and three coasters. These items were stacked on top of each other and each person took a turn and rolled the dice. I can’t remember exactly the rules but certain numbers meant you must take next item on the stack, and certain numbers meant reverse order. So if next item was shot of whiskey, you were to drink it. If next item was the cigar, you were to smoke it. If next item was a coaster it was a free pass.

Well Hans showed up at the pub and sat beside me and played the game with us. You could feel the chemistry and the heat between us. Even Barbara could sense it. She was taking pictures, which I now cherish and hold very close and dear to me. But again, there was one huge problem. Hans was married with four young children. He was out drinking, while his wife was home with their four kids. Now before I go any further, I will reassure you that nothing happened, but like I said, the chemistry was out of this world amazing.

The evening continued and the tension grew. Hans had his hand on my leg almost the entire night. This is a night I will never forget. Hans is a salesman by trade. He worked for a company that sold pharmaceutical glassware and his territory was Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. He was to leave for a five-day Conference in Sweden and he asked me to go with him. I remember thinking, if he wasn’t married, I would have immediately said yes.

Hans drove me back to my uncles this night. What a bad mistake drinking and driving. It was a very cold October night and the roads were icy. But we made it back to my Uncle's home. We said goodbye and see you later. No kiss, no nothing. Remember he is married.

The next night there was a small birthday celebration for Barbara’s brother. Hans was there as well. Being sober now, he again offered to take me to Sweden, but than thought, maybe his wife would not agree to this.

Sadly this trip came to an end, and I returned to Canada and Hans went off to Sweden and than home to his wife.

Many more years passed, Barbara and I continued to keep in touch. We faithfully sent each other Christmas and Birthday parcels every year. Christmas 2005 I received her parcel with a business card from Hans in it. Barbara wrote, Hans would like for you to email him some time. January 2006, I sent Hans the first email. We exchanged emails for the next six years. He told me he separated from his wife in 1998 and divorced in 2001. He was finally available.

Christmas Day of 2012 Hans called me on the phone for the first time.

Between the year 2006 and 2012, while emailing, he disappeared for about one year. I discovered later he had collapsed from a severe blood clot and he had blood circulation issues. He was in a coma for three weeks and almost died. He also discovered he had an embolism in each lung.

This first phone call turned out to be the start of many calls. First it was every month, to every two weeks, to every weekend. We had marathon phone conversations that lasted eight hours or more. We never ran out of things to say, endless conversations about anything and everything. We learned so much about each other. I knew I had to take another trip to Germany.

September 2013, I got on a plane, and flew to Germany to meet Hans again. Thirty-four years after the first time we laid eyes on each other. I arrived at the airport in Frankfurt, and he was not there. I waited and waited and he did not show up. I finally called him. He was standing at the wrong gate waiting for me. So finally he figured out where I was. I stood there beside my luggage and watched this man carrying a bouquet of sunflowers approach me. Sunflowers are my favorite flower. How did he know?

He approached me and stretched out his hand to shake mine. I pushed it away and gave him a hug. But to my surprise, his return hug was brief and cold, just a two pats on the back quick hug. I was shocked and thought, he doesn’t like me. I have flown all this way to Germany for nothing.

We travelled back to Bischofsheim by train. Now I was really worried. We had marathon conversations over the phone, and now, sitting beside him on the train, he had next to nothing to say. The ride back was very quiet. What could be wrong, I kept thinking. He told me at a later time, he was so overwhelmed by my beauty that he convinced himself that there was no way I would be interested in him. That he was way out of my league.

We finally arrived in Bischofsheim and Hans drove me to the Gasthaus I was staying at. He also explained to me that he was going to be busy working the following week and he must also visit his son every night in the hospital. He just had an operation on his ear. So for the first week, I did not see him.

Then on Sunday, September 22, 2013, we had our first official date. He picked me up at the Gasthaus in the morning and took me to the Rot See for breakfast. I presented him with a gift I picked out especially for this occasion. It was a small Canadian flag and German Flag painted on a real Maple Leaf set in a frame. He was very appreciative of this gift.

It was a beautiful sunny, warm autumn day. We walked around the Rot See which is really a pond, and came to a bench facing the sunshine. We sat down and he told me, “Wait here, I’ll be right back.” He left, and five minutes later returned carrying a backpack. He pulled out a bottle of champagne and two champagne glasses. He opened up the bottle and filled the glasses and we tossed the day. I thought, wow this was so beautiful and romantic and this would be the perfect time for a first kiss. Or second first kiss. But he did not try to kiss me. We drank one glass of champagne and continued to walk around the pond.

We walked some more along one of the hiking trails, and came to a clearing where you could see the town of Bischofsheim below. He pointed out where his house was. I wasn’t sure so he stood behind me, leaned up against me, and placed his arm on my shoulder, took my hand stretched it in direction of his home and tried to show me. All I could think about was how close he was to me and I was just enjoying the moment and not thinking about looking where his home is.

Then back to the car we went and he than took me to the Rote Moor, which is another place with beautiful hiking trails. As we were walking, we came across a small stream that we needed to cross. He took my hand to help me across. When we reached the other side, he did not let go of my hand. He just continued to hold it while we continued to walk. It felt so right and so comfortable like we have been holding hands forever but still no kiss.

From here we went to a third location. He brought me to a forested area to show me some of the property his family owns. At this location, he pulled out the champagne again and poured two more glasses. We had a sip and then it happened. Our second first kiss. He kissed me, a short one on the lips. Not ten seconds later, he said, “That tasted good, can I have another taste?” He kissed me again, a long lingering kiss. That was it. We were in love. FIREWORKS.

Speaking of fireworks, the last and final time Hans and I made love, there were fireworks going off outside our bedroom window, right at the peak of our loving making. Something I will never in my life forget.

The embolisms in his lungs were the eventual cause of his death. The gift of the flags painted on a maple leaf is now in his coffin buried with him.


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