Sunday Family Stories - My Opa

I really don't have memories of my Opa, he passed away when I was two years old... but I have memories of great stories and a wonderful family heirloom to share with my children that was made by his hand...

I also don't know all of his story, but the parts that I do know make me proud to have had a man like Franz Loeffler as my grandfather... From early on, the stories I was told of my father's father - Opa, was that he was a quiet man who spoke with his hands... he was a carpenter and I remember the garage at the bungalow where my father spent his teen years and my Oma lived when I was a child to be full of strange and wonderful tools of his trade... chisels, planes, saws - almost everything he did was by hand, in the Old World style...  and he worked on a special piece for his first grandchild, a rocking horse... but I digress... I want to tell you some of the history that I know about him before we talk about my gift...

Franz Loeffler was a young man, growing up in Germany in the twenties and early thirties... as an apprentice and then journeyman carpenter, he was a socialist and believed in unions, trade and commerce... and as Fascism took hold in his country, he made the difficult decision to follow his beliefs and leave a country that no longer supported him and his ideals... from what I gather of the stories, he fled through Czechoslovakia and made his way carefully to Canada.

Upon arrival in Canada, he began to build a life, interrupted by the growing ills in his homeland and surrounding countries in Europe - the escape route he had used fell to German forces that occupied Czechoslovakia and Franz felt the need to return to fight against the oppression and atrocity being wrought and joined the Canadian Armed Forces and returned to Germany as a translator... it must have been an impossible situation as he headed into familiar territory to fight against oppression and tyranny of his own people...

While there, he met my Oma, Ursula, who immigrated to Canada shortly after the war to marry my Opa - she had two weeks after landing on Canadian soil, knowing almost no English, to get herself organized, acclimated and married!

They built a life in Canada, having three sons, my dad being the oldest... who married my mom in 1973 after having known each other off and on all their lives... and growing up down the street from each other... I was born in 1975 and from all accounts was my Opa's darling - he shared some of my firsts... he gave me my first beer, and of course, my first 'pony'...

I know so little of the intervening Oma shared some stories with me before she passed away on January 1, 1998, but what I do have is a legacy... and my children call her 'Dotty'

Dotty is a fabulous, one of a kind preschool size rocking horse... and one of my greatest treasures... my Opa lovingly created her for me and never got to see me ride her... She was a Christmas present that he nearly completed before passing away.

I was inspired to write this before I could contact my family to get pictures to include... I promise to scan and add new pictures of my Opa and Dotty as soon as I can and I will announce the opportunity to come back and see this post come to life... but I really wanted to share this story with you as my Sunday Family Story today!

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