©2012, Mirror Image Edutainment
EDITOR’S CAVEAT: This piece has yet to be edited. The author offers no apologies for missing or misplaced commas, overuse of the words have, had, that, and excessive use of exclamation marks.
Here is my life story; it’s quite long. You may want to grab a few beers and your bong. Daddy was a Peacemaker. Mum was a Warrior. Might that make me a warrior for peace.
My 19th century father’s father, Christian Gottlieb Mayer, was a sugar beet farmer in Sugar City, Colorado. My mother’s father, Johann Heinrich Goetschkes, was a 19th century German industrialist inventor. He grew up on a large hof in Baden Würtemberg, set out at eighteen to travel England and Scandinavia, and decided to work as a farm hand in a sheep farm in Keithsley, Ireland, and learn all he could about wool. Then he bought himself the sheep farm, returned to Germany fluent in English, and opened a carpet factory in Berlin. Though we never met on this plane, most of what I know about style, quality, and business I learned from his daughter, my mother, the Empress of Fashion.
My grandfather specialized in tapestries, carpets, and rugs. In 1898, at twenty-eight, he married Adele Saamland, and had two daughters, my mother’s older half-sisters, Anne Marie, and Gisela. Shortly after their births in 1900, and 1901, he became a widower. In 1914, he received a commission to clothe Kaiser Wilhelm’s army. At the time, wool was the only fabric available for cold weather garments. This meeting with the Kaiser turned my grandfather’s factory into a clothing manufacturing center, rather than the birthplace for rugs. This transition made my grandfather a very wealthy man.
Born with a secure core belief in prosperity, he now had at his command the ability to understand quality and style on an intimate level, and everyone else in his world responded the money. In 1914 he purchased Hasensprung, a forty-room Gothic revivalist castle with one meter thick granite walls, built in 1900 with eight bathrooms, four for servants alone. The double property lies along Grunewald’s Dianna See, and extends to the Rabbit’s Leap bridge, and the König’s See.
Early in the 20th century, my grandfather patented a process by which he used seaweed to facilitate the carding of wool, a patent he would later sell to the wealthy industrialist I.H. Farber. In 1916, he met my maternal grandmother, Hedwig Purz. In 1917 they married, and in December 1918, my mother was born, the Empress of Fashion, Christina Hedwig Henriette Goetschkes, named after three Queens.
Tragically, in March 1919, my grandmother Hedwig lost her life in a tragic automobile accident, leaving my three month old mother in the care of Hedwig’s childhood friend, Annie Reich, when Hedwig begged just before passing away, “take care of my little Crystal.” Annie Reich and Hedwig Purz had met my grandfather together, both had fallen in love with him. Annie, who had been married and was unable to have children, after Hedwig’s death, divorced her apothecary husband, and moved into Hasensprung with my grandfather, his two daughters from his first marriage, my mother, and a staff of nine.
In spite of having been stripped down to the nothing in 1945, Gisela was the most spoiled, self-serving individual of I have ever met. It was she (whom I cannot see as anything other than evil) the wicked step-sister who filled in my mother’s void for a mother. She had actually known my mother’s mother. Hedwig had been her step-mother for a brief time. Of course my mother leaned toward her, in that big house of granite and oak.
I stepped into the house Hasensprung in 1972, long after it had been divided into twelve apartments. The grand entrance, flanked by two floor to ceiling brass paneled walls was gone, and an additional floor had been built in to cut the forty foot ceiling in half. Living in Grunewald on a lake patrolled by white swans was a loving experience in that it taught my mother a love for the finest of everything.
In 1939, Hitler summoned my grandfather to repeat his commitment to the Kaiser. “You must join the Nazi party” he was told. From the start, my grandfather was among the 1 in 4 Berliners who rejected Hitler and his policies. The wealthy had nothing to gain by joining the Nazi party. Only the poor, the unemployed, the forlorn lost survivors of WWI stood to gain anything. Still, that did not mean he could not be carried off to a concentration camp, a traitor to the Reich for refusing to cooperate.
“I have never joined any party in my life, and I am not going to join the Nazi party” said my grandfather. And so Johann Heinrich Goetschkes walked out of the Reichstag with his integrity in place, and his life. Whenever I hear uninformed people lump Germans and Nazis into one group, I cringe. The two are no more related than America and slavery define who I am as an American citizen.
My mother grew up under the care of a series of two governesses, overseen by Annie Reich, whom she called Tante Annie, one of the last grand dames. When I spent (her last) Christmas with Tante Annie in 1971, she said to me,
„ich war Reich, und ich war reich.
I was Rich, and I was rich.” Tante Annie, who was left abandoned in Berlin, adored me, and I returned the favor. Tante Annie visited twice a year, and we visited her in Berlin once a year.
To my mother though, as a blossoming young woman, Annie was uncomplimentary and even jealous. I will even believe my mother on this one. I’m sure Annie didn’t mean any harm with such comments as „you are so tall like a stringbean, you have no bosom and your feet are so big that we can’t even find shoes for you without having to special order.“ She was only speaking the Truth, — her truth. Of course my mother was a string bean as viewed from within Annie’s size 14. Trapped inside a golden cage, my mother was not allowed to interact with other children.
As the Nazi’s imbedded themselves and their politics into everything, it became impossible to escape their influence. My mother’s only outings were the drive to and from private school, supervised, in a Maibach, driven by a chauffeur wearing white gloves. And there were other supervised family outings near and far from home but always avoiding crowds. It seemed the only way one could evade the Hitler mania that had swept over Germany was to stay home and have one’s children attend private school. Here in private schools, the mandatory „Heil Hitler“ salute was not enforced. Nonetheless, a picture of The Führer hung in every classroom to appease authorities. Only behind locked gates could my grandfather assure that his little girl would be protected from the „evil“ he saw rising up all around him. Other than that, there was nothing he could do, and this was a wealthy, powerful man.
Though the stock market crash of 1929 had little impact on my grandfather, by 1934 my mother began noticing vacant spaces where tapestries and large historical paintings had hung the night before. Provided he could even find a buyer, the sale of one piece of art could keep the estate afloat for an entire month as Johann Heinrich postponed the inevitable.
Sanctions were placed on trade with Germany just a few years later, allowing no goods to enter or leave the country. Without raw wool from his sheep farm in Ireland, there was nothing to weave. The factory shut down and over one hundred workers lost their livlihood. As times got worse, piece by piece my grandfather disassembled his factory machines with his own hands to sell them to street vendors as scrap metal. No longer able to maintain Hasensprung, he either sold or lost the estate and moved his family into a six-room luxury apartment. My mother remembers the day she overheard the mover’s commenting, “what a blow — from a castle on the lake to an apartment.“
One day, while walking down Berlin’s main street, the Kurfürstendamn, my mother became aware of how much she „needed“ a new winter coat. When my mother says „need“ I know that means it’s last year’s hemline or spikes are no longer in style, but this was 1937 so I will believe that she did indeed need a new coat. In a world gone mad, everyone was attempting to maintain any semblance of normalcy.
Though she had never noticed it before, she suddenly found herself standing in front of Mode Haus Dior. She walked in just to look at coats and visualize herself owning one. That same afternoon, she walked out with a job as a model and a new winter coat on layaway. Her father was vehemently opposed to any female member of his family working and she managed to keep it a secret for some time. But when he found out, a once proud man who now could not even afford to buy his daughter a winter coat, was happy for her.
Between May 1940 and April 1945, Berlin was subject to 363 air raids. That is an average of one raid every five days. Anything that had survived the bombing attacks had long since been confiscated by the Nazis. Whenever I wonder why my Mummy is just a little different from other Mummy’s, just a little (lot) tweaked, I think of this. Right up until April of 1945, my ancestors dodged attack from the air until they were finally bombed out —- three weeks before the last bombs nearly leveled the city. My mother emerged from the bomb cellar with a suitcase in hand, just in time to watch her home, the objects of art, the silk furnishings, the Maibach, her whole life go up in flames before her eyes. She was happy to have not lost her loved ones.
I am convinced that when my mother emerged from that cellar, she stepped out with a new core belief system. After having been bombed out, they moved into the caretaker’s house on the factory property. This in itself was a twelve hundred square foot two story house. Here on his land, they had an orchard of fruit trees to pick bare. Whenever I wonder why my Mummy is as difficult to get along with as she doesn’t have to be, or why I ended up becoming the family psychiatrist who is never consulted by anyone but myself, filling in to care for my mother’s every emotional need, I think about the humbling adjustments she has make all of her life. That’s still not an excuse for using one’s child as one’s servant or for abuse or neglect. But what is not normal about that? In the face of the worst, my mother had become, or may have chosen to become, servant to her father and step-mother. Forty years later, I did the same when my father retired and my mother lost the help, then began a career which would leave me behind.
Toward 1944 the saying went, “Enjoy the war. Peace will be dreadful.” And indeed it was. The country was ravaged by hunger, loss, guilt, addictions, and there was nothing to feed them with. Rape by Russian soldiors was rampant. Women drew pock marks and spots on their face to feign sickness. Wearing old, out of style clothes was not a problem as nothing had been produced or sold in Germany for years. A country torn apart at the seams, with a capital that had been split and divided into four sectors, and then, to add to the starvation, the Soviets blockaded Berlin for more than a year in an attempt to suffocate the city.
They failed, not just once, proving that a house divided among itself cannot stand.
I can’t get my mother to speak but I imagine that she believes that if there were (is/had been) a (loving) God (S)he would not have destroyed her house, her home, her city, her country, her life. Hers had been a vengeful God. For six years, from 1939 to 1945, she had learned not how to live, but rather survive in War consciousness. Then, in a final dig, in 1948, Hasensprung was sub-divided into six lakeside properties and the castle in which my mother had been raised was divided into twelve apartments. How could her core prosperity beliefs not have suffered as she shifted into a belief in survival. Is this why she is so crazy? Is this why she can be so mean, so cruel to the one she professes to love so much, her own only son?
It is into this stage that, die Amerikaner, for short: Amis (friends) arrived with their Lucky Strike cigarettes, Juicy Fruit gum and Maxwell House coffee. Though he didn’t smoke, chew gum, or drink coffee, my father was among those Amis, seen as Saviors. My father entered Germany as a University of Maryland Humanities professor and U.S. Department of Defense Education Adviser. My father, George James Mayer, had never prospered. This was, for him, the ultimate opportunity. They met and he handed over to my mother gum, cigarettes, coffee; all power with which to buy anything on the Black Market. That’s another story.
I have always been aware that my mother’s experiences have had a major significant influence on my life. She is a warrior (and a fire sign). All of my life, under her command and supervision she continually injected me with an unhealthy dose of her DNA. She was so much more powerful than my father, more powerful than ANY man I had ever met and certainly ANY woman, that my father’s passive loving manner was nearly pushed aside just to be able to handle her. Christina was more than most people could handle, and many Americans just simply wouldn’t.
I understand their prejudices. And as her son, I am way more than she ever expected to have to deal with. In her charming manner, she cast spells on people, which they were not aware of. At 8 I called her a witch. When my pronunciation improved so that I could pronounce the English “b”, my 13 year old mouth landed me in a series of abusive foster homes. But that’s another book.
In separate writing, I conceptualize how my life has followed my mother’s lead. I never had a mother (who knew how to love a child), I lived through my own war, I had a breakdown at an early age, worked three jobs like a dog most of my life mostly in a career that I loved, only to lose my house, my home, all of my loved ones, my career and business relationships to an internal war that has been going on inside of me —- all of my Mummy’s life.
I was raised in an internal war based on my Mummy’s outdated core beliefs, and yet, the pre-war core had remained in tact, but there was a cost. My mother’s power was something no one ever stood up to. And when I chose to be the one and only person to do so, it cost me the relationship with a mother whom I wanted more than anything, to love and be loved by unconditionally. But she is not open to being loved in any way but her own — the right way — her way.
I remember my father’s library containing books like ‘Mein Kampf’, and ‘The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich’. This 12 year old then asked himself, „why would my father, who was a decorated WWI American Veteran and a pacifist, read a book about such an evil person?“ Thirty-five years later, after he reached for the „till death do us part“ clause at 103, I finally realized that ever since he met my mother, he had been researching in an attempt to understand this volatile (often hysterical) woman whom he had chosen to spend 56 years sleeping with in the same magnificent 18th Century hand carved cherry wood cane Emperor’s bed.
Five years later, my 85 year young mother had a new hair colorist – I mean boyfriend move into her palace with her, taking the place that, in a perfect world, might have been mine — if I were crazy enough to want to live with my mother — yikes!!! When I needed to return to my parental home for some motherly care after the loss of my father and many other loved ones, I found that upon hearing of my arrival, my Mummy had taken off to visit her daughter.
There I slept, in the winter, in my car in Mummy’s driveway for ten days until I found that I had learned to better understood her stand on human rights. Even after propping her up for six months after her husband’s passing, now that she was better she no longer needed me. I still wasn’t welcome in my Dad’s home that had never been his. He was only permitted to reside there (and pay the mortgage, etc..)
Twenty-five years ago I studied with Judy Carter. While working on a set, Judy said to me, „Your mother is a Nazi!“ I have toyed with that idea ever since. I have come to understand that my mother is not a Nazi. But she is a product of Nazi Germany. There was no way she could not have been. No one ever said this before, but now I do:
„You can take the girl out of Nazi Germany but you can’t take Nazi Germany out of the girl.”
In spite of becoming Merchantile’s top selling producer for some twenty years, at home my mother did not act like an adult. I can only imagine people put up with her interrupting because she was their top selling buyer. The fact that she had a husband who was twenty-three years older than she, did not lend her maturity. At home, at work, the supermarket and André’s Swiss Pastry Shop, she was treated like one of the three Queens she had been named after. My father’s favorite quote, “I’d stay out of the kitchen if I were you. Your mother is on the warpath again.”
It is only with great patience on my part and great reluctance on hers, that my mother has shared with me her wartime experiences. The saying was “Forward!” and if it didn’t go forward, she shoved it behind her and covered it up with the rug. She absolutely refuses to go back to even yesterday. Every day is a brand new slate, even if she wasn’t wrong but perhaps only mistaken. I have never known anyone who is so forward driven and who manifests prosperity so convincingly by controlling other people and the situation to suit her needs – but at the cost of the feelings of others, and that is contrary to true prosperity. If anyone has a core prosperity consciousness of wealth and believes she deserves the best, my mother stands at the top of the list —
regardless how it affects anyone else.
With the exception of the war years (not the ones she acted out with my father but the ones where bombs actually fell out of the sky) she has always been a master at manifesting good — with his salary and benefits. Sadly, to maintain this, there had to be compromise and so her manifestation did not extend to include me. In spite of the shiny new gifts and toys that appeared every Christmas under a magnificently decorated twelve foot flocked tree rising to her cathedral ceiling, anything my Mummy ever gave me unofficially was either bent, broken, burnt, busted, cracked, marked, nicked, nacked, scraped, scuffed, twisted, warped, out of order, not working or just plain funking —- Kaputt!! Like meine Tante Gisela used to say — “All is kaputt!”
Growing up, this person whom I quote, “No! I don’t want to listen!” was the Queen of my father’s house. She just allowed him to live in it. And his siters, my American Aunts Leanna and (Le)Kaye were not welcome even during the holidays. My father would visit them while my mother was out of town on a buying trip. And so why wouldn’t I have seen her this way as well? For most of my life, the subject thoughts that have arisen in My Kingdom have been her thoughts. All of my life, wherever my mother was known, on three continents, I always heard, “oh you are Christina’s son. I can tell. You look just like her,” except, every three weeks she is blond. All of my life, everything was about Christina until it then became about Christina and her daughter. The only thing my parents both seemed to agree upon was that going through life as a couple would be less painful than attempting to face it on one’s own.
Dad was a Peacemaker. Mom was a Warrior. I must be a warrior for peace. All of my life, I have been the recipient of mixed messages; wealth and poverty. That warrior mentality I carry in my core belief system is far more difficult to harness and tame than Dad’s feelings of peace. It’s taken me a lot of work to maintain peace for myself and when I do, I think of my father and the unwavering acceptance and patience with which he approached every day, every person, and every situation. He was a noble man, far more noble ever than my mother.
Upon one of my many attempted escapes from “The” Home she handed me a card upon which she had written, “I am a mixture of tenderness and forged steel.” Actually what she wrote was: “Ich bin eine Mischung von Härte —- und Zärte.” All my life I have been counting and I’m still waiting to experience the tenderness that my mother says she is. I guess I can now safely say, “And so it is, and so it always has been and so it always will be. Get used to it!” For more fun and informative stories consult my blog, AmericanValuesRestored.com.
Whether his son-in-law, my Uncle Fritz Pindter, Admiral of the German Navy fleet, the biggest fleet in the world at the time, had anything to do with making this connection, I will never know. But I do know that this
Until the Nazi thugs took over the city, Berlin was a major cultural center where being different was not only accepted, it was celebrated. Decadent 1920’s Berlin was a safe place to be for anyone who was different. That was true, until the Nazi’s took over.
There is one life.
This life is God.
This life is perfect.
This life is my life now.
I give thanks.
Und so soll das sein.