My dad and the German man, a lesson in forgiveness

My parents always had a book of maps in the car, of all over Europe. The book was big and brown and had all these fold out maps that I really liked to play with.
That book is in my mind for a different reason too. In the front of the book was a phone number, and a name. My brain said it was Michael, but it could have been a completely different name.
That little scribbled note at the top of the first page is a mental snapshot of forgiveness.
I think we were in a small German town near the border, about an hour’s drive from our house. We went there to shop once a year or so, as in Germany a lot of things were cheap.
I remember coming out of a shop with my mother and seeing my dad talking with a young man, early twenties perhaps. They were talking in German. I had learned a bit of German from watching German TV and from school, but not enough to completely follow what they were saying.
They were laughing and chatting. I thought to myself that the man was kinda cute, and I sat down and listened to them talk, watching him.
At one point, the man left after leaving his name and number in the book.
My dad smiled and appeared to think nothing of it.
I had a hard time wrapping my head around his talk with the man. After all, he had spoken of his hatred against Germans all through my childhood. He had given small glimpses of his life during the war, and the images weren’t pretty. He talked of small acts of defiance against the Germans, and laughed boisterously when he recalled one moment he and his friends acted up in class while there was a German soldier in the room.
I asked my dad about the talk with the German man, and my dad said , “Not all Germans are bad. Also, he was born after the war.”
In that casual way he offered a perspective he hadn’t given me all through my childhood, and I loved it.

One Reply to “My dad and the German man, a lesson in forgiveness”

  1. Hi Sylvia – we change over time don't we … and realise life is different – while people are different too – interesting … and yes we come to realise things at times. Thankfully most of accept all peoples – cheers Hilary

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