All eight of his children (by two marriages) attended Papa’ funeral in April 1994, turning it into the kind of bibulous wake he himself would have enjoyed. The ceremony itself was in a packed church, the largest in Karlsruhe, with mourners and gawkers crowding the sidewalks outside. His body was then transported by hearse to the cemetery in the Bavarian town of Bad Reichenhall, where he was buried next to his parents in the family plot. Here in Reichenhall his journey had begun in his pre-teenage years after the expulsion of his family from their ancestral home in Estonia in 1919.
On our way back from Reichenhall to Karlsruhe we made an Abstecher (side-trip) to some of our old haunts during the war, specifically to the Elmhof, Neubeuern, and Hinterhör. The latter had changed dramatically from the way we remembered it. Once the bustling country estate of my godmother, the Countess Degenfeld, “Sweetie” to us, it now seemed deserted and moribund. In contrast, the Elmhof was in ship-shape condition, unchanged from the way we remembered it, but with a new coat of paint.
In the summer of 1994, Emmet’s grandparents, Amy and Carl Winkle, came to Spokane for their annual visit. This time we decided to take a trip to Penticton, Canada, a very pleasant drive in Carl’s air-conditioned Cadillac. However, the destination was ill-chosen. Penticton, a beautiful town with two picturesque lakes, was enveloped in a haze of smoke generated by a fire raging in the forested hillside at the edge of town. We were lucky to find motel rooms, as a bit later in the day all rooms were taken by residents of the hillside homes consumed in or endangered by the fire. Two-year-old Emmet was fascinated by the fire-fighting planes that dipped low into the lake to scoop up water to pour on the flames. Emmet himself was allowed to go into the water only up to his waist, however. The day before, he had suffered some burns backing into our charcoal grill. We had to take him to the emergency room for treatment for his burns.
In September 1994 my “godson” Johnnie Van Duyl came to visit us over Labor Day. We attended the Spokane Symphony’s free concert in Comstock Park with my colleague Tim Sarbaugh and his family. Our animated conversation drew an admonition from a neighboring couple to please lower our voices.
Emmet started preschool at the YMCA in September 1994.
He would certainly have been ready for school much sooner than 1998, when he started first grade, but we held him back (in compliance with the Washington state law establishing six as the age of school entry). While he was intellectually ready for school a year earlier, we thought he would benefit socially by being one of the older students in his class. Having graduated from high school at barely seventeen, I learned from my own example, but also from my son Nick’s experience, who graduated at seventeen as well, not yet having achieved his full growth.
In May 1995 I celebrated my sixtieth birthday. Sally and I went out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. Looking out the window, I was surprised to see Nick in the parking lot. What a surprise, I thought; he must have guessed we would be here. Of course it had all been prearranged by Sally, but the thought never occurred to me. I thought it was pure coincidence.
In the summer of 1995 Sally attended a six-week seminar on film at the University of Rhode Island. Emmet and I joined her in Providence in July. We visited my cousin Johnny Edmonds, an Episcopalian priest in Newport, before heading up to Vermont to see Mama.
For Emmet’s fourth birthday on September 7th we were back in Spokane.