I’ve written here and elsewhere, about family before and, no doubt, I will write about it again. But this week’s post is about a very special member of my family, my father’s family, our family; my cousin Wolf. Wolf passed away last week, with his wife and children next to him and I imagine it is how he would have chosen to leave this world if he could have had a choice.
I first met Wolf in 1987 when I went to Europe with my then husband. Not only is Wolf a cousin, albeit distant, he also married one of my first cousins and I was super excited to meet them at last. He was such a gentleman and so knowledgeable about many facets of life. My first cousins are quite a few years older than I am, but both Wolf and his wife Uschi were so welcoming and kind, the difference didn’t seem to matter.
In the years before my father’s death it was Wolf’s letters to him which kept him interested in life. They never met but formed a wonderful friendship through their correspondence. My father was especially interested in the restoration work Wolf had undertaken in the church which had once belonged to my father’s family. The next time I met Wolf was in 2013, several months after my father died, at the first family reunion I attended. He made me feel so comfortable, as did all the family. I was finally part of something.
Wolf was our family’s genealogist. He was the keeper of the family archive, with all the records and stories. He knew practically everything about our family and always thirsted for more information. When I began to research my father’s history he was right there by my side (metaphorically at least). It was Wolf who helped me translate some of the letters and documents I found in my father’s house, and Wolf who contacted the authorities to try to uncover my father’s military past. Without him, I would still be in the dark about so many things.
The last time I saw Wolf was nearly three years ago at their home in Sweden. I visited him and Uschi shortly before I made my first pilgrimage to the former estate of my father’s family, which was in Latvia. I brought Wolf copies of some of the documents my father had left behind. He showed me his study, a room dominated by the many bookshelves which housed much of the information about our family. I wonder what will happen to it now. As I was leaving Wolf gave me the book my father had once given him. A book which had been dear to my father’s heart. It was a teary moment for me.
A week has gone by since Wolf passed away and I can still hardly believe he is gone. It is sometimes difficult to register these sorrowful moments in life when you are geographically at a distance. I’m not sure where I first read that “family is a link to the past and a bridge to our future,” but that was Wolf. He was the link to our family’s past and it will be his genealogical work for our family which will form the bridge to our future. I miss him.