Thursday, February 10, 2011

Moving Quickly Backwards

As we get older we often look backwards while still putting one foot in front of the other as we enjoy new experiences and places to visit. We re-connect with old school friends and we cherish our family history and collect souvenirs, and photos. Mostly photos, if we are lucky enough to find them.

So on my trip last Summer to Copenhagen to visit family and walk through the old 'homestead', I collected many pictures of my cousins and my Grandparents, whom I never really knew. My Grandmother I saw maybe 10 times in my life and my Grandfather died in the 30s or 40s so I never laid eyes on the Baron.

They met at The Homestead in Virginia as he was looking for a wealthy American and had a Title, and she was looking for...well, who knows as she was just 18 and probably did what her parents suggested. Her family had come down from a farm near Columbus Ohio during the Civil War and had stayed in Cincinnati during its heyday and done well as a Federal Judge and working for a small soap company that went public.

So they were wed in a high society event at the Cincinnati Country Club in the 20s but after two kids and a few years living in Denmark where my Father and his brother were born, they separated and the reasons are lost to history but like today there are always two sides to every story. He drank and she cheated or she drank and he cheated. Or neither. Just like today, relationships are complicated. He died in a taxi accident in New York City and she spent the rest of her life moving around the country with a few years in Cincinnati until dying on her farm in Maryland.

So last summer I headed to my father's homeland and was greeted warmly by Danish cousins and we visited Rosenholm near Aarhus after a few hours of driving and a ferry ride from Copenhagen. The place is sort of a private museum and beautiful on a warm August day but I would hate to have to pay the heating bills in Winter. Of course, it would be a snap to shut down a few wings to save heat as indoor plumbing was not part of the original plans back in the 1500s,

I learned that back in the days the owners were quite a party crowd and during one party they threw thousands of glasses in the moat as this was some sort of custom back then, and the Queen and King would come to visit for the weekend primarily to hunt, but the Rosenkrantz's got tired of him taking the best stags so in his room they put in a 6 foot bed. He was 6 foot 2.

And when one of the daughters refused to take the hand of several knights in marriage after many years and then fell in love with a local boy who was not from the aristocracy, her father grew enraged, invited the boy over under the pretense of granting his daughters wish and knighting the poor boy. When the boy knelt down to be knighted the father drew a sword and cut off his head. The daughter was unconsolable and when she died was cemented in the wall of the castle. Xrays prove there is a skeleton in the wall, and there is a ghost in the place. My Father saw it when he spent the night back in the 40s.

So we all have some baggage and have stories to tell and now I know it's in my blood to travel and throw glasses in the moat and can relate to relationship changes, and can understand while I love Cincinnati as a hometown, I feel very at home in Europe.


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