Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My German Relatives

My cousin Bejamin, also known as Benji or Benyamine is a wonderful little guy. We had the incredible privilege of spending nine days at my aunt and uncle’s home just outside of Ismaning, Germany, and Benj was a highlight.

A little background. Damian, my mom’s older brother, left the states in about 1985; he had some recording opportunities (he’s a very talented drummer) in West Germany at the time. Ultimately, that went the way of most recording opportunities, and so he ended up working for Voice of America before the wall fell. He met and eventually married Irmgard, a warm and sweet Bavarian woman, whose family owned (and owns) a beautiful farm outside Ismaning. It is technically a part of Ismaning, which is now a swanky bedroom community for Munich, but they actually live on farmland that is at least a twenty minute run (on foot) away from the neighborhoods.

Damian has worked for several companies, has done some day trading, and is presently doing translation work for Germany companies. Irmgard works in a local law office, and between that and parenting, they are both busy people. Fortunately, multi-generational families aren’t that unusual in the more rural areas of Germany (as much because of land prices as tradition) and so they actually share a farm with Irmgards parents (separate domiciles, though). The grandparents are also able to help keep an eye on my little cousin when necessary.

Damian and Irmgard were blessed with Benjamin, but this blessing came later than usual. Both were in their forties when he was born, and Irmgard’s pregnancy was somewhat high risk. He was supposed to be born in July but instead was born at the beginning of May. Things were very dicey. It just so happened that I arrived for my first trip to Europe right at that time. I was doing a month-long study abroad trip with my school, George Fox University, and I had worked it out to skip out on a day to see Damian.

I happened upon a tense time. Benjamin was in an incubator, and on a respirator, and there was a lot of question about what kinds of developmental challenges he might face. It was a hard and emotional time, scary really. It was also a very special time to be there. He was able to breathe on his own without the respirator for the first time when I was there.

That said, I went back two years later with my friends Jarett and Luke, which was five years ago. By then it was pretty apparent that Benj had overcome all his premie difficulties, and there weren’t too many worries about development. He was just a normal little two year old boy.

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