Growing up in Germany, my father was stationed there as head of Defense Intelligence for Europe, – and my brothers and I necessarily tagged along.
We lived in East Berlin before the wall, Nurnberg and Heidelberg. Most often we lived off-base in crumbling mansions rented to the Army. Underground tunnels, fake libraries, bombed stairways that led to nowhere, the houses had stories to tell and I loved to walk between the pillars of those stories.
In Nurnberg, our cellar held a vast vault, the steel door perhaps 6″ thick! Empty then, it once held the treasures of Hitler’s world of Art Confiscation. And our residence was once Hitler’s home. Frau Bette felt it was a story that I should be told, and never forget. And so, one afternoon she opened the vault and with her 8 assorted cats she sat me down and began the story of WWII… I never forgot.
Traveling throughout Europe, often times by private train in the middle of the night, we would be escorted by armed security and directed to run to our private car flanked by men and guns. This was my normal. Other times we traveled by car to enchanted old world cities throughout Italy, Holland, Austria, Luxembourg and of course, the small cobble towns with which Germany was replete.
It was a time of spooks and spook parties. Cold War. The good guys were evident – the bad guys well pronounced. While propaganda was alive, I was oblivious. I frequently wonder what my father could tell me today – although the one time I did try I was met with the spook line, ‘if I tell ya, I gotta kill ya’. Choosing life, I was happy to simply be his – daughter.
Nearly every country was represented at the spook parties, each person slyly pretending he wasn’t a spook. An odd game. But one far less complicated than what we are subjected to today. In my father’s droll sense of humor, he took to wearing a floor length black cape, a fedora, and thick black leather gloves, whilst using his riding crop for emphasis, the dramatic persona of wit in the game of spook.
It was a lovely time, privileged in many ways, ordinary in others, but it formed a different me, that wasn’t like others.
IN this my life, my father taught me three core values: integrity, honor and respect. This was the code. I have held to this code my entire life, thru trials, thru cavernous faults, and capsized Sunfish. I refused to succumb to the triviality of those who marauded and instead sought to make this my legacy in teaching my Three Sons. It has become our heritage within this cycle of values.
There are few people that understand what these three words truly mean. There are fewer that can put them into action. And there are fewer still who wear them in their heart. It is those who wear them in their heart that fumble, make mistakes, fall, and get back in the saddle. That is what we do.
And so, I am a different soul, born within something my father gave to me, a heart that can never die no matter the beatings.
Stationed back to the States as a teenager, none of us really wanted to leave Europe, but we, necessarily, tagged along. The Pentagon was my father’s destination, Virginia was ours and I found myself in somewhat of a culture shock. Much more naive than my peers, it was a difficult transition.
At the ripe age of sweet sixteen, despite my mother’s objections, my father sent me to Paris to study the arts so as to become more refined and cultured. Dance took hold, and I quickly found my first ‘gift’.
Drafted into a company at 18, by 21, if I was going to pursue dance fully, New York was the only option. Juilliard offered, I declined. So my father sent me to college where I graduated with a degree in Finance and Accounting. My first major tectonic shift. A world outside of Art.
Many tragedies, much joy, more drama than I care to remember, I ended up living on a Passport 40′ sailboat in Sausalito with my husband ten years later. My father had taught me to sail as a teenager and I quickly came to find – after the purchase – that my husband was a complete and utter novice. But we were determined souls and sailed daily in the Bay, up the Delta, and ultimately to Santa Barbara, LA, and the Channel Islands.
Many stories abound of those sailing years, near catastrophes, much comedy, and much Life!
Many moons passed, I lost a husband and was raising my three sons when I perchance was introduced to a sculptor. With much pleading, he agreed to be my mentor and train me in the art of bronze sculpting. Four days a week, and one year later, he set me free.
I had once again found a gift, a passion. It was an enormous joy!
Immersed, I sculpted. I created. Prolific and dedicated, my talent shined! And I was happy for a time. But life interjected with my second husband’s infidelities, the dark web, disease, lies and theft. The storms were violent in their thrashing.
Still, with time, I remembered what my father had taught me, the values that would hold me together and the unending hope and belief that one day I will be loved as I know it is meant to be, where the legacy of a life is not in simplistic selfishness, but in the meaning of why we are here. Perhaps I am a female version of Don Quixote, a free spirit, a bit off, a bit different, riding Rocinante and fighting windmills!
What I know is the world we are witness to today is not a Cinderella fit for me – and yet there is only one way to get back in the saddle and ride. Holding a bridle of Honor, Respect and Integrity.
BS in Business & Finance
Series 7 certification – stock broker
Various positions as Finance Director/Comptroller for Real Estate Developers and Financial Planners.