First of all I want to thank my Papa Georg for always being such a wonderful father to me.
He was a very different man from myself, was interested in other things, used to have another lifestyle. But anyway we were quite similar in many ways. Just like me, he loved tranquility and sweet idleness. He loved a good meal, and he enjoyed a beer, just like I do. And when it came to politics, we mostly agreed.
Whatever I did in my whole life, whatever decisions I made for myself, he’s always been lovingly supportive, even though he would have done many things differently.
When I decided to resign from the church as a young adult, I was quite concerned about telling him, since he was a believing man and I knew that I disappointed him badly back then. Actually church was the only subject we never could talk about openly and easily. But he accepted my choice and never ever reproached me with it.
Shortly thereafter, when I told him I was gay, this wasn’t a problem for him. Although he didn’t quite understand at first, he was very understanding and supportive. He took my partner Hermann, who is also here today, to his heart as a new member of the family. Together with Janice he even joined us on the streets, as we were demonstrating for gay rights.
I know for sure that he never wished anything else for me than to be happy and satisfied with my own life, in my own way. For all this, and for your boundless love, I thank you, dear Papa.
In the summer of 1937 in Munich, Georg was born into a rather large family. He was the ninth of twelve children.
Those were difficult times back then in Germany, but thanks to a headstrong father who was passive rebellious, he fortunately was spared the worst. The family sat out the war hidden and penned up in a cabin out in the woods. When he was 8 years old, the Nazis were defeated and the war was over. The family walked the 30 kilometers back to the bombed out city, where their house was still left standing.
Although he was a clever boy, he never liked to go to school. He decided he could do without a higher education, wanted to be independent as soon as possible. He learnt the trade of a type setter, and his love for the printed word remained throughout his whole life.
At the age of 18, he left his homeland for the first time, tasted foreign air in Amsterdam, Paris and – most importantly – Bern in Switzerland. Later on followed by trips to Sweden, Hamburg, Frankfurt, again to Switzerland, and to Vienna. Time and again he stroke out on his own, found jobs in his chosen profession everywhere he went and enjoyed his freedom. But he also loved to return to Munich, back home. There, at that time, wonderful friendships were founded, many of which endured until today.
The contacts to Switzerland also remained, and when the married woman who he had romanticised about, but didn’t think there would ever be a chance, wrote him in a christmas card that she was about to divorce her husband, the 31 year old packed his old cardboard suitcase and ultimately moved to Switzerland, where Marlies and her three kids Esther, Claudine and Ralf lived. In the spring of 1969 they married, and three years later another child appeared, I was born. I count myself lucky that Papa described this as one of the most meaningful moments in his life.
Also to my three older step-siblings, he was an equally wonderful father as he was to me.
Together with my mother, he built a new family home. He was always there for us, took care of everybody’s well-being. The first grandchildren were warmly welcomed into the world, parties were celebrated, friendships were cultivated. The years passed by, with the usual ups and downs, and all in all they were good.
When I was 21, while I planned to leave the nest and move out of my parent’s home, my mother also decided to leave Papa. This was a huge stroke of fate, which he hadn't seen coming. It was in 1993, probably the darkest time of Papa’s life. But then, fortunately, Janice came into his life and his bleak outlook changed into a bright new future. Janice will now continue with their shared story.
Just one more thing:
Papa always was a quiet and modest man. But he knew how to enjoy life, and how to pass on that joy. In many ways, he’s always been a great role model to me. The certainty that he had a good life fills me with gratitude.
Dear Papa, I will never forget you.