Conclusion & Beginning

We just returned from my grandfather’s memorial service and wake. It was an emotional time for many of us. Heinz Conrad had few friends, but steadfast ones, and reconnecting with them, my cousins and my great uncle Conrad’s family was the highlight of the trip.

I had met “the other” Conrad Altmann only once, when I was young, and have no memory of it. We have exchanged a couple emails over the years, but that was the extent of our correspondence. Meeting him and his wife for the first time, and sitting down with them to chat about everything from his brother to our past and future lives left me with a true sense of beginning a new relationship. He told us of his relationship with his elder brother of ten years, about how Heinz was his hero growing up and still is. We talked about how Conrad’s daughter and son-in-law adopted two children. In many ways, being with Conrad instilled a sense of my grandfather; his voice and presence and even face is similar. Slightly younger and perhaps a version of Heinz that hadn’t gone through the war, Conrad is a firmly religious man. He will never replace Opa, nor am I looking for a surrogate, but getting to know him—however late in life—is something both Violeta and I look forward to.

So while Opa is now among his trees, and that chapter has closed, a new chapter has begun.