Friday, September 5, 2014

Going "Home" Again

There are only a few places that emotionally feel like a "home away from home" for me, and I sense it immediately.  London and Rome are two places that I knew I belonged.  There's no logic to it, but I knew I had an attachment to those places as soon I got there.  I yearn to be there.

Then there are places that I thought I would emotionally respond to like I did to London and Rome and was surprised when it didn't happen.  Paris quickly comes to mind.  I love the history, culture, architecture, etc., but I don't have that "you're home" feeling.  Wiesbaden is another.  If any single town/city should've awakened something in me, you'd think it would be a German town.  But it didn't.  I liked it.  I liked being there.  But I didn't feel "at home."

And then I visited Haselünne three years ago, and I felt that same "at home" feeling as I did with London and Rome.  My heart yearns for it.  I feel a connection to it that I don't feel with any other town that my ancestors came from.  Why?  I have no idea.  But I've learned to not question and just accept it.

Next week, I go back "home."  But this time, two of my sisters and one brother-in-law go with me to our ancestors' birthplace.  I hope I haven't built it up so much to them that it doesn't live up to their expectations.  But I'm really looking forward to seeing the church and the Hase River again, drinking some more Korn, and just being in the same place that my ancestors were.

St. Vincent's Catholic Church--To the right is the spot where the Latin Boys School once stood, a school my male ancestors probably attended.

The tower of St. Vincent's

The "Historic" Road 

St. Vincent's

The Hase River

Grandpa Joe's pipe resting on the baptismal font where his father was baptized in 1850

Me in front of my "home."  My Kerkhoff family's home was located on this spot--Hasestraße 4

I think of Casper and Lisette Kerkhoff and what they must've been doing 150 years ago tonight.  I'm sure they were preparing for their big adventure, and saying goodbye to family and friends.  And I'm also sure that they knew that they would probably never see these people ever again.  I think of them as they visited the grave of their only daughter for the last time.  Bernadina Antonetta Lisette Kerkhoff died in 1862 when she was just 14 years old.  I can't imagine the pain my great great grandparents felt as they walked to the cemetery for the last time and told their daughter of the journey they were about to take.  A journey they had to take without her.

My sisters and I will be in Haselünne on the 150th anniversary of our Kerkhoff family leaving the town (15 September 1864), and I hope Casper and Lisette will be smiling down upon us.

Let the adventure begin!