Like many readers of Driftless Now, I performed my military service during the Cold War in Germany. And, like thousands of lonely young men, far from home, I fell in love with and married a German girl. Upon my discharge from the Army, Gerdi followed me to the United States, where we lived in Chicago, raised two children, and experienced the joys and challenges of married life until her untimely death in 1984.
Thirty years into a second happy marriage, questions still prey upon my mind: How might life have been different if Gerdi and I had settled in Germany, rather than in the U.S.? How would I have coped with the barriers of language, culture, and employment in a foreign country? How would our sons have fared in the German educational system? Would Gerdi have experienced less financial and emotional strain living and working in her home country? Would greater peace of mind, combined with German socialized medicine have enabled her to beat the cancer that took her much too soon?