my parents arrived thursday afternoon for a visit. the “visit” was initially supposed to be a graduation visit. there are probably thousands of parents flooding into austin this weekend for the graduation festivities.
unfortunately, i'm not graduating. we thought that i would graduate at the time when my parents bought their plane tickets and made their non-refundable hotel reservations. they very graciously decided to come to austin anyway. to give their daughter a boost of moral support.
their visit has been great actually. very therapeutic. being with my parents is like being home. wherever they are is where home is.
friday we journeyed out of austin to the nearby hill country. it is a breathtaking drive along the sloping roads. the land is impossibly green and open. cows and lambs graze happily under the sun. wineries beckon.
we spend the afternoon in fredericksburg, historically a town of german immigrants where we sampled german pastries and perused antique shops along their main street. i realize that it is not what the shops sell that draws me; it is the buildings themselves with their thick wooden floors and a hollowness to all the rooms, even though some are cluttered with things. i'm fascinated by their architectural flare, nearly 200 years after they were designed, built, and initially inhabited.
toward the end of a very warm texas afternoon, we decide to visit the vereins kirche, an octagon-shaped building that serves as a local museum. “vereins kirche” apparently means, “society’s church.” the structure was the first church in fredericksburg, built to serve the towns’ german catholics and lutherans. eventually, both of these groups built separate churches.
there is an 80-something-year old man with bright blue eyes collecting donations at the entrance of the museum. it is filled with black and white photographs and artifacts from the town’s 150 year history. it includes maps of germany and texas and details the migratory process.
the museum attendant seems impatient with my reading all of the placards and insists on narrating the town’s history to me himself. he tells us about his family and how they migrated from germany in the 1800s, how his wife’s family were also immigrants, but from a different town in germany. he tells us about his service in world war II and how, as a bilingual german-english speaker, they told him he would be responsible to translate for any german prisoners of war they captured. but then they sent him to the south pacific, he laughs!
i love his stories and i love how much he knows about the history and culture of his community. i loved meeting him because he reminded me that even though we are mexican and he is german and different immigrant generations, we’re really not so different.