We had met for the first time in the Summer of 1980 and fell in love a year after that on my third visit to Canada in 1981. Letters went back and forth every other week; there was no internet in those days or smartphones that allowed for text messages across the Atlantic. Once a month we talked by phone for 10 minutes as it was horribly expensive, and that’s all we could afford.
In the Summer of 1982 he had finally come to Germany for a visit and I was ecstatic. We toured some parts of the country and also had planned a road trip to Berlin which was, at that time, still a divided city, located right in the middle of Communist East Germany, which meant driving through several checkpoints, not knowing if the people in charge of these checkpoints were going to have a good or a bad day!
I celebrated my 23rd birthday while we were visiting Berlin and on that day, in the morning after breakfast, I not only received a gorgeous bouquet of flowers but also a tiny box with the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. The proposal of marriage that came with the ring (in grammatically incorrect German) left me incredibly happy but also speechless. Even though I had secretly hoped for this, it took me several minutes to compose myself before I answered with a resounding “Yes”.
What I hadn’t realized was how nervous he had been, as he had brought the ring all the way from Canada and had heard horror stories of people having their luggage searched at checkpoints and had feared he might have had to make the proposal at gunpoint under the watchful eye of a border guard.
Even though the love story ended rather abruptly when he left me out of the blue 27 years after that fateful day, this is one of the beautiful stories I will remember forever about our marriage and Berlin will always have a very special place in my heart.
Ingrid, thank you for sharing this special memory of your 23rd birthday. What an amazing day, being lavished with love and beautiful gifts that left you speechless!