Family gatherings were always tense and bit awkward for Heidi and Don. It seemed it had always been that way.
They had met in ’68 when Don was stationed in Ramstein with the Air Force. Heidi worked at a little bakery not far from the main gate and he was smitten with her from the moment he first entered the shop to buy a pastry.
Heidi’s sparkling blue eyes and soft braided brown hair captivated him, but better still she was fun to talk to. Her English was good, and she had a dark sense of humor which appealed to him.
After several weeks and dozens of pastries he worked up the courage to ask her out. They went to the cinema and a drink afterwards. It was a perfect date for the young Airman.
The relationship bloomed. Eight months later Don handed in the paperwork to his commanding officer so that he could take a German bride.
The wedding was going to be there in Germany and it took a lot of preparation to get his mom and dad over, but in the end they arrived two days before the ceremony.
Don introduced Heidi to his parents and his mother, Dotti made a tremendous fuss over her soon to be daughter-in-law. Even the usually hard to please dad was taken with the pretty, sweet girl.
Then came the wedding dinner. Introductions were made of both families and all seemed cordial enough. The meal was good, and everyone seemed happy. Then the two fathers had a few moments to chat alone.
For those observing the conversation, there seemed to be a transformation. What started as smiles, soon turned to sternness, and then to disgust on both parts.
From that time on the pair would never speak again. Oh, the wedding went ahead and Don and Heidi would have a wonderful life together and bring up three beautiful children.
But at family gatherings their fathers would sit, often together, but without a single word being uttered. It was the way it was for the former Sergeant Tom Miller, 82nd Airborne and Oberleutnant Karl Becker of the Panzers.