1. Father Daughter Story book
I took my air ticket and passportout of my pocketand proceeded to the passport
control area. I was finally going to Germany and I was so close to seeing the one
personI had missed the most these last few years. When I arrived at the passport
control area, I was quite nervous. It had been some time since I had been in public
places and time can change a person. I handed my passportover to the passport
control officer, who looked at me and then gave me back my passport. Itook a
long breath and then walked through the gated area.
I called Peter one more time and told him that I was really out this time. He just
laughed at me and wished me a safe flight. As I was waiting for the plane, I
glanced at the boarding gate. There was a big clock on the wall and I noticed that I
still had about fifteen minutes until the plane would begin boarding. I sat in the
waiting area and was startled when I heard my name on the loudspeaker. I became
scared and I started to shake. I didn’t want to go to the counter, but I knew that I
had no choice. When I got to the counter, there was a lady wearing a blue skirt and
blazer and a man in a black suit.
The man requested to see my passportand knowing that I had no choice, I handed
it over to him. He looked at the picture on the passportand then at me. He said
something to the lady in Arabic and then handed my passportbackto me.
“Thank you, you can sit back down. The plane will board in approximately ten
minutes or so” he said.
I asked him, “Is there a problem? Can I really leave the airport?”
He replied, “Ofcourse you can leave. You look much thinner than you picture
I replied, “You are correct.”
A few minutes later, the gates opened and I lined up when I was directed to. I gave
my boarding pass to the attendant who was standing in front of the doorto the
plane. She took half of my boarding pass and returned the other half to me. I went
inside the plane and the stewardess inside asked me what my seat number was. I
told her that I was seated in 30A and she told me to go straight ahead and it would
2. be on the left. She told me to just keep looking to the left. I told her thank you and
quickly found my seat. The seat was comfortable and roomy and there was a small
television on the seat in front of me. A few minutes later, the stewardess came and
handed me a headset.
The service on the plane was excellent. I was even asked if I wanted chicken or
fish to eat. Since I was able to decide, I chose the chicken meal. After I ate my
meal, I decided that it was time to take a nap. I found that I was really tired from
When I woke up from my nap, I found that the plane was already on the European
border. The screen in front of me showed that there was only about 45 minutes
until we would arrive at Frankfurt Airport. I decided that I would use the restroom
before we landed, so I would save some time once we reached the airport. As I got
up, the plane hit a little turbulence, so I was a little off balance at first. It had been
a while since I had last flown, so I wasn’t too used to the motion. After safely
making it back to my seat, I looked out the window for the rest of the flight. I
enjoyed the view from the plane of the land below.
The city looked quite small from above and it amazed me at how this could be. I
knew from my research that the Frankfurt was actually quite large. The buildings
looked the size of a lego and you couldn’t see anything like a car or personfrom
that height. As we got closer to the ground and the runway, things began to look
bigger and the city started to resemble more of what I had found in my research. It
was huge and busy.
When we landed at the airport, I got off the plane and went to the immigration
counter. There were a few people in line, so I needed to wait my turn. When it
was my turn, I gave the officer my passportand he stamped it and handed it back
to me. I went to the luggage area so that I could collect my bags.
I went outside to get some fresh air and relax for a moment before I headed out for
the rest of my journey. Frankfurt was not my final stop as I needed to reach the
city of Cologne. Cologne is where my daughter had been living and I had not seen
her for quite some time. I needed to get my thoughts together before I could
continue on. My mind was racing with the possibilities that were to come and I
couldn’t stop from thinking about whether it would be something good or not.
There were too many variables and I didn’t know where they all fit in.
3. While I was getting some fresh air, I watched people as they greeted loved ones
arriving home from trips. There were hugs and kisses and greetings galore and I
found myself hopeful that my reunion would be just the same.
I headed over to the regional train station and purchased a ticket to Cologne. I had
to wait a little while before the train left, so I went over to a little stand and
purchased a snack. I realized that traveling can make a personhungry. Either that
or it was the nervousness that was making me hungry.
When it was time to board the train, I stood in line and was happy when I was able
to get a seat by the window. It was a beautiful sunny day and I wanted to see the
views of the land while we traveled. The train ride was only about an hour and
fifteen minutes, but the sights that I saw during that time were breathtaking.
When we arrived in Cologne, I got off of the train and headed through the streets
of the city to my first destination. I needed to go to the government office of
“Rathause” in order to find out where my daughter was. There was a line when I
got there, so I needed to take a ticket with a number, so I would be able to get a
turn with a personwho worked there. It felt like I was waiting for an eternity
while I waited for my number to be called. There were so many people and the
time just slowly ticked away.
As my number was finally called, I stood up and walked over to the person. I was
so nervous, because it had been so long, but I knew that I couldn’t wait much
longer to hug and hold my little girl. The personat the office had many questions
for me and I almost didn’t want to take the time to answer them all. I just wanted
my daughter. However, I knew that there was a procedurethat needed to be
followed and that the quicker I answered the questions, the quicker I could see my
Government worker “I need to know your name and your daughter’s name please.
I also need to see your identification.”
I showed her my identification and gave her my name. Then I said, “My
daughter’s name is Ava.”
I do not remember much more of what was asked of me. As I said, I was so
excited about the idea of seeing my little girl. Ava was now seven years old and I
had no idea what she even looked like. I was hoping that she might have my dark
4. hair and maybe even look a little bit like me. What the government worker said
next startled me.
She said, “ You will need to wait for two days before you can see your daughter.
We will need to process this paperwork that you will fill out and then come you
can come back here for her address.”
I almost passed out when I heard this news. I was in shock. I had waited all of this
time and now I was going to have to wait even longer. I didn’t know what to say
or what to do. I knew that I could not get upset, I could not yell or scream. None
of that would help me at all. It would only cause me more suffering. If I got into
any trouble at all, I could be sent back to where I had just come from and that was
not what I wanted at all. I had to stay focused on what I wanted, what I needed,
and that was my daughter. I wanted and needed to be a part of her life at last. I
had never been there for her in the past and it was time to change that. I just hoped
that I was not too late. My only wish for myself was that my daughter would want
me as much as I wanted her.
I quickly filled out the paperwork that was needed and then I left the government
office. I walked along the streets of Cologne and tried to get a feel for the city. It
was not as large as Frankfurt, for which I was thankful and so far everyone looked
friendly. It was quite nice outside and the city looked beautiful. I found a park
during my stroll and decided to venture through the area. I wanted to learn as
much as possible about the city in the next two days.
The park was a good size and there were lots of benches to sit upon. After walking
for a while, I decided to sit on one of the benches and watch some of the people. I
also thought of what I had seen during my short time in the city. The park itself
had a playground for the children, walkways for strolls and a little pond that was
filled with fish. You were not able to go fishing in the pond, but it was beautiful to
look at. I imagined myself there after I met my daughter. I would be able to take
her to the park and walk around with her and let her play on the playground. I
imagined that Ava would probably love the fish as much as I did.
It was close to dinner time, so I pulled myself up off of the bench and tried to
figure out which direction I needed to go in order to find my hotel. I wanted to
check in before I went out to get something to eat. It had been a long day and I
was getting really tired. The hotel was not far from the park and once I found
someone that spokeEnglish there, check in was much easier. I was given a room
and once I dropped off my luggage, I went in search of restaurant for some food.
5. Again, finding food was not as easy as I wanted it to be. With being in Germany
and not speaking German, I was not sure of what anything was. Thankfully I
found a place where some of the people there spokeEnglish and they were able to
assist me with finding something that I liked. Not that I was picky, mind you, but I
didn’t really want to be eating something strange.
After a quick and filling dinner, I headed back to my hotel for some sleep.
However, when I returned to my room, I could not quite relax. Everything on the
television was in German, so it wasn’t like I could watch a show or two until I fell
asleep. My room did have a small balcony, so I went out on that and listened to
the sounds of the city. My room was facing a main street so I could see all of the
people scurrying around and trying to get where they needed to be in time. There
were so many people who still were out, planning on late dinners or a night out on
the town. I was a little envious of these people, but at the same time, I knew that it
was not the lifestyle for me at the moment.
Three hours later, I finally went inside and closed the balcony doors. Ihad had
enough of people watching and I knew that I needed to get some sleep. I wanted to
go back out exploring the next day and knew that the busier I was, the faster the
time would go by. I finally fell into a sound sleep.
I woke later in the morning and felt much better than I did the night before. The
rest must have done me some good. I showered and got dressed and headed out to
explore the rest of the city. I walked up and down streets and in and out of the
different stores. The language barrier was still an issue, but I was hopeful that over
time it would get better. I purchased different items for Ava and before I knew it I
had two bags full of things that I wanted to give to her. I hadn’t realized how
much fun it would be to shop for a little girl. I bought clothes and toys and craft
supplies. The stores were full of many things for little girls.
I went back to my hotel room with the bags so that I would not have to carry them
around much longer. They were becoming quite heavy and burdensome. I decided
to then walk back to the park before stopping for dinner that evening. I knew right
then that this park was going to be an important part of my life in the weeks and
months to come. I was only hoping that Ava would enjoy it as much as I did. I
decided to have dinner at the same restaurant as I did the night before. The
workers there were happy to see me again and I knew that the food would be
delicious. I decided not to tempt fate by trying anything new too soon.
6. After a delicious dinner of fish, potatoes and veggies, I headed back to my hotel, so
that I could sit out on the balcony as I did the night before. As I sat outside
listening to the sounds, my mind wandered back to earlier in the day. I had walked
past many places that I could rent out and live there and I kept thinking about one
that was really close to the park. I decided that I would have to make a few calls
the next day, so that I could take a look inside and find out the price and the rest of
With that decision made, I listened to couple walking by on the streets below,
talking and laughing about their evening. It seemed to be just as busy that night as
it did the night before. All of a suddenI heard a knock on my hotel door. I got up
and went inside to answer it. It was a hotel employee and they had a message from
the government office for me. I was not to go to the office until after 12 p.m. the
next day. My paperwork would not be finished until then. I told the hotel worker
thank you and closed my door. I sighed a sigh of frustration and went back out to
the patio. I decided to look up and that’s when I saw the most beautiful sight. The
moon was so bright and the stars were shining. It was a sight to see and I couldn’t
believe that I hadn’t noticed it the night before. I was trying to see if I could
remember anything about the constellations I had learned about so many years ago.
I wanted to be able to pick out the big and little dippers and a couple other
constellations. At least I knew which star belonged to the North Star. That one
always shines the brightest, so it was an easy one to find.
I do not remember how long I sat there before I went back into my room. I was so
relaxed that time did not really matter to me. Thosestars gave me the hope that I
needed in order to believe that everything was going to be okay with my daughter.
The next morning I awoke and tried to stay busy. I called about the apartment and
made an appointment to go see it a little while later. The price was something that
I could afford and the size seemed to be just right for myself and my daughter. I
walked over to the building in time for my appointment and walked up to the
apartment doorand knocked. The personshowing the apartment to me was
already there, so I was able to go right in. I was amazed as soonas I walked in the
door. The windows were large, so the rooms were bright and airy. The apartment
was furnished, so I would not have to spend money on any furnishings, which was
a relief to me. There were two bedrooms, one bathroom, living room, dining area
and a small kitchen. I knew that once I started living here, I would have to learn
how to cookfor myself and my daughter. It was something that I had done on
occasionin the past, but not as much as I should have.
7. I made the decision to rent the apartment and signed the lease immediately. It was
in the perfect area for me and I only hoped that my daughter loved it as much as I
I was told that I could move in the very next day, so I headed back to my hotel to
let them know that I would only be staying there one more night. I grabbed the
two bags of items that I had purchased for Ava and headed out the doorto go to the
government office. When I arrived, I had to get a ticket with a number and wait
for my turn just like the other day. Again, it seemed like eternity before my
number was called. I finally met with a personand it was not the same one as the
other day. I had to give this person my name and my daughter’s name and she had
to find all of my paperwork. Thankfully, everything was in order and I was finally
given a sheet of paper with the name and address of the hostel where my daughter
was staying. I couldn’tbelieve it! In just a little while, I would finally get to see
my daughter for the first time!
I left the government office and started walking to the hostel’s address. It was a
very pleasant day and the sky was very clear. The blue skies and no clouds added
a spring to my step and I found myself whistling a little bit. People passing by
must have thought I was a little strange, but I was happy. It was 4 p.m. and
schools were out for the day. There were many parents on the streets with their
children and you could tell that they were happy together. I finally reached the
hostel and then realized that I didn’t know where the director’s office was. A
cleaning lady saw me and when she found out I was lost, helped direct me up the
stairs to the office. The director’s office doorwas closed, but I heard movement
inside, so I knocked on the door. A lady in her mid fifties opened the doorand
introduced herself to me as the hostel’s director.
I introduced myself to the director and found that she did not speak English very
well. We both struggled as I tried to tell her my story in English. Finally after
some time, we were both in a place in our conversation where we understood each
other a little bit more. She suggested that I go down to the garden outside of the
building to meet my daughter. She said that it would quieter there and there
wouldn’t be as many interruptions. I headed down to the garden as she went to
As I walked to the garden, I was trying to decide which gift I was going to give
Ava first. It was so hard to chooseas I just wanted to be able to give my daughter
everything and make up for all of the lost time between us. I found that I was more
nervous that I expected over meeting my 7 year old daughter for the first time.
8. I watched as the director came out of the hostel with a little girl and I knew
instantly that she was my little Ava. She looked almost exactly as her mother did,
way back when I knew her. She even had the same style in her hair. The director
pointed her finger at me as she gave her a push in my direction. I was so
mesmerized by her that I could not even blink. I ran towards her, carrying
chocolate in my one hand and bent down to hug her. It was what I had been
waiting for all of these years.
I didn’t see excitement in my daughter’s eyes though. I saw fear and sadness. She
was not moving closer to me and it was as if her feet were stuck to the ground.
I looked at her and said, “Baby, I am your father and I have come for you now.”
She looked at me and ran across the garden to get away from me. I was in shock
and could not believe what I was seeing. I tried to walk over to her again and talk
to her, but she would not answer me at all. I walked over to the director and
begged her to translate what I was saying to Ava.
I said, “Tell her that I am her father and that I have already missed out on 7 years
of her life and I do not want to miss out on any more.”
After the director translated to Ava and listened to Ava’s response, she turned to
me and said, “She does not like you and she does not want to leave the hostel.”
I stopped breathing for a moment and could feel my bodyget heavy and weak all
at the same time. My eyes were wide open but I felt that I could not see anything
or anyone. Ava started running into the hostel and I could not move to go after
her. It was like I was frozen in time. The director went after Ava and I sat on the
ground feeling hopeless and miserable. This was not the outcome that I had
expected. I had believed that my daughter would understand why I hadn’t been
able to be with her before and that we could both start fresh. I thought that she
would welcome me in to her life and that we could start over as a family.
The director came backoutside and told me that Ava was refusing to come out to
me. She thought that it would be bestif I went back to my hotel for the night and
return in the morning. Hopefully, after Ava had some time to think, she would be
more receptive of me. I gave the director a stuffed animal to give to Ava and left.
9. I walked and walked throughout the city and did not know where I was going.
Even though I had been through many areas of the city in the last two days,
nothing was making sense to me at the moment. I felt hurt and confused and was
in much emotional pain. I somehow found myself at the park that I loved so much
and just sat on the bench with tears streaming down my face. The blue skies and
gentle breeze meant nothing to me at the moment and neither did any other noise
that I heard. I could hear the birds chirping in the background and while their
sounds were happy ones, that is not what I wanted to hear at the moment.
I knew that I could not give up where Ava was concerned, but I didn’t know how
long it would take me to convince her that she needed to be with me. I did not
want to waste any more of my time with being away from her. I wanted to learn
all about her and get to know her really well. I wanted to tell her stories of my
time together with her mother and stories from my childhood. I wanted to hear any
stories she remembered of time spent with her mother. I wanted to explain to her
why I hadn’t been able to return to her until now. There was so much to say and I
couldn’t do any of it until she would actually come near me.
I spent a restless night at my hotel and I was up really early, packing up my
belongings. After a few trips over to my new apartment, I had everything out of
my hotel room. I said goodbyeto the workers I had come to know the last few
days and knew that I would miss that balcony. Thankfully, my new apartment had
a balcony that overlooked my favorite park, complete with a view of the pond with
I did not want to get to the hostel too early in the day, because it was a schoolday.
I knew that Ava would be at school, so I spent time arranging my things at the
apartment. I even went to the store to pick up some food for the cupboards and the
refrigerator. I made myself a sandwich for lunch and took it out to the balcony, so
I could eat in the sunshine. It was another beautiful day and I was hoping that it
was a good sign of the things to come in my life.
While I was waiting to go back to the hostel to see Ava, I looked at the paper I had
bought earlier in the day. I did not have much money, so I knew that I would need
a job in order to continue paying for the apartment. I was not sure what I would be
able to do here with the language barrier I had. I did know that I would not be able
to leave Germany any time soonthough. Ava’s mother had told the government
that Ava was not to be allowed out of the country until she turned 18. I needed to
find a way to work and keep Ava at the same time. I used to be a manager at a
multinational company before all of my bad times started, so I knew that I was
10. smart and could do any job. Unfortunately, since I did not speak German that
might be a problem. I circled as many jobs as I could in the paper and decided that
while I was waiting for schoolto let out, I would work on my resume. Hopefully, I
would be able to send out some applications today before I went over to the hostel.
Working on a resume is not that easy when you have not worked for a few years.
It is very difficult to explain your absenceto potential employers. There was no
way that I could lie though, because I definitely would not get hired if I lied. The
one thing I knew was that I would work any job I could get in order to supportmy
daughter. I would work harder than any other employee at the company, in order
to show that I was worth the money that they were paying me. It was nice to have
the opportunity to use my computer out on the balcony. I think that the sun was
helping my mood and increasing my productivity. Before I knew it, it was time to
head on over to the hostel. I just hoped that the afternoon would be better than the
I decided not to take any of the other gifts over to Ava. I did not want it to look
like I was trying to pay her off with gifts. I wanted her to like me for who I was
and I wanted her to know that I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life.
The walk over was just as nice as it was the day before. The same parents and
children were on the streets and it seemed like they were continuing their
conversations from the day before. I walked into the hostel and up the stairs to the
director’s office, since I know knew where it was. I knocked on the door, just like
I had the day before and the director answered immediately. I knew from the look
on her face, that this day was not going to go much better. However, she had
managed to find someone that could help us with the language barrier. I was
relieved when I heard that news.
I was told to go down to the garden with the interpreter and that she would bring
Ava down to me. I knew at this point that I should not expect miracles, but part of
me still was hoping for one. I was talking with the interpreter and giving her a
little bit of information about myself, when the director walked out with Ava. Ava
still looked scared and upset, but at least she was walking toward me. I did not go
to her like I had the day before, because I did not want a repeat of that. I decided
to stay where I was and get a conversation started. Or at least a one sided
I had the interpreter tell her a little bit about myself and where I had been the last
few years. If Ava seemed shocked, she didn’t show it at the time. Maybe her
11. mother had mentioned it to her. Maybe she had thought her mother was just using
it as an excuse for why I wasn’t there for those years. When the interpreter was
finished telling Ava what seemed to be my life story, I held my breath and waited.
What I was waiting for I was not sure, but I wanted something. Some sort of a
response. It was a few minutes before I received one. I was shocked at what Ava
Ava said, “I will leave the hostel and go with you because that it what my mother
would have wanted me to do. I am not planning on being nice to you though, or
loving you at all. You have not been here for me the last 7 years and I do not trust
you or want anything to do with you at all.”
I waited for a moment and then nodded my head. I was happy that she was at least
going to go home with me. I was hopeful that with time, the rest would work itself
out. I just didn’t know how long that would take.
Ava went to pack up all of her belongings as I went back to the director’s office to
get all of the information I would need. I needed to know about Ava’s schooland
her medical history. These were all things that I didn’t know anything about and it
was all a little confusing at first. I quickly learned the time that Ava needed to be
dropped offat schoolin the morning and what time I would need to pick her up in
the afternoon. I learned her teacher’s name and contactinformation. I knew that
the language barrier would still be a problem between Ava and myself, but I knew
that Google would be able to help me out with some of that.
When Ava returned to the director’s office, I saw that she only had one bag of
belongings. It seemed that she did not own too much and that I may have to
purchase some things in order to make sure she had what she needed. It would
stretch my already limited budget, but I knew that I would do anything to make
sure that Ava had what she would need.
We bothsaid our goodbyes to the director and walked back to the apartment
together. I did not say much, becauseI knew that it would be difficult for her to
understand me. I also did not want her running from me on the streets. I might
lose her and not be able to find her. I did not want to have to try to explain that
one to the police. When we reached the apartment, I let Ava go in first and I
followed closely behind. I had placed all of the items that I had purchased for her
in her room and the shelves, dresser and on the bed. I told her to take a look
around and used my hands to demonstrate what I was saying. I turned my
12. computer on so that when we started talking in a little bit, I could translate what we
both wanted to say.
After quickly looking around, Ava went into her room and closed her door. I sat
down in the living room and waited and waited. After an hour, she still did not
come out of that room. I decided not to push her and went in to the kitchen to
make dinner. I knocked on her doora little while later and using what Google had
translated for me, I told her that dinner was ready. To my surprise, she opened her
door. I knew that she only did that becauseshe was hungry, but to tell you the
truth, I would not have been surprised if she had not come out at all that night. I
had half expected her to stay in her room until morning. Or at least until I had
gone to bed. When she got to the dining area, I motioned to her to grab her plate
so that we could eat out on the balcony. I wanted her to be able to see the park and
get some fresh air. I wanted her to see how beautiful the area was and see how
many people were around. I was secretly hoping that she would fall in love with
the park as I did, and that it would make her forget about the fact that she wanted
nothing to do with me.
We bothate in silence and then we went inside. Ava went directly to her room and
I cleaned up the dishes from dinner. After everything was put away, I decided to
call it a night and go to bed. It was my first night in my apartment and I wasn’t
sure about anything anymore. I was hopeful that I would be able to sleep well with
Ava in the next room. I knocked on Ava’s doorso that I could tell her that I was
going to bed, but I did not get a responsefrom her. I didn’t think much of it
though. I figured that there would be a lot of silence over the next few days.
I woke Ava up the next morning, so that I could feed her breakfast before taking
her to school. After breakfast, I walked Ava to schooland took her inside. I
introduced myself to all of her teachers and found that only one of them could
really understand me. That was her English whose name was Silka.
Unfortunately, Ava only had her class once a week. I wished that she would have
had it more often, so that we could overcome our language barrier much quicker.
While Ava was at schoolthat day, I spent my time walking through the city putting
applications in for work at every business that I could find. I was not able to find
much since I could not speak German, but at least I was persistent. I knew that
with time I would be able to find something that would allow me to work while
Ava was in school, so that we could spend her time away from schooltogether. I
did not want to have to find someone to watch her while I was at work.
13. The days that followed continued on just like that first day. We would wake up in
the morning and have breakfast together and then go to school. I would fill out
applications all day long and then go and pick Ava up from school. Most days we
would stop at the playground after school, so that Ava could have some fun with
friends. She was meeting a few new people at the park and I knew that it was good
for her to have friends around. She would try not to smile or laugh when I was
around, but I did notice it on occasion.
While Ava was playing, I would sit on a bench and soak up the sun and the fresh
air. I would watch all of the kids play and sometimes one of the other parents and I
would start a conversation. It was nice to be able to speak with an adult, but very
difficult to find one that spokeEnglish as I did. Through a few of these
conversations, I found out about a job possibility. It was with a construction
company and even though I had never built anything before in my entire life, I
knew that I should take a chance and apply. According to my new friend, they
were hiring and willing to train the right people. I wouldn’t have to know much
German in order to do the job and as long as I worked hard and could follow
simple instructions, I should be fine. Plus, the work hours coincided with Ava’s
schoolhours. I would still be able to drop her off and pick her up in the afternoon.
It sounded like it was almost too good to be true.
After we got back to the apartment that night, I told Ava about the construction
company and how I was going to apply for a job there the next day. I was hopeful
that Google was translating everything properly for me and it must have done a
decent job, becauseshe didn’t run from the room screaming at me. That was how
most of our conversations ended up. She didn’t want to listen to anything I said or
do anything that I asked her to do. It was almost like she was a teenager and she
was only 7 years old.
I was discovering that Ava’s schoolwas a challenge for me with the language
barrier. Google was only so good at translating things for me and some words had
different meanings depending on the context of the writing. There was a day when
all of the students were supposedto wear a carnival dress to school. Ava came
home and tried to explain it to me and even brought a letter home about it. I tried
to Google what the letter meant, but Google translated it a different way than it
was meant. I couldn’t understand what Ava was saying and she didn’t understand
what I was saying. She was doing a lot of yelling that afternoon. I was wishing
that I had stopped at the park at one point, so that one of my friends that spokeboth
German and English could have helped me out. I really needed to get their phone
14. I took Ava to schoolthe next day in what I believed she was supposed to be
wearing and when I picked her up that afternoon, she came out of the schoolwith
her face completely red. She was the only student that had not worn a carnival
dress to school. She spoketo me in rapid German, but I could not even pick out a
word that I could understand. The only thing I knew was that the tone of her voice
was not good. She was almost yelling at me in public. She sounded harsh and her
words just kept getting faster and faster until I told her enough. I guess that the
tone of my voice was enough to get her to stop.
This language barrier was the worst thing that could have happened to us at the
time. I always wondered if we both spoke the same language if we would have
become friendlier to each other much sooner. Maybe because we could not
understand each other, we knew that we could not get along.
I applied for the construction job and to my surprise, they offered me the position.
I guess that I felt like my life was finally changing for the better. Yes, I still had to
find a way to communicate with my daughter and still had to get her to like me, but
at least I had a job that would give us some much needed money. I would be able
to start the next day. I felt like I was walking on air as I went to pick Ava up from
school. Even the sour look on her face was not enough to deter me. We went to
the park, so that she could play and I found my friend who had told me about the
job. I let him know that I had applied and that they hired me. He was so happy
that he had been able to help me out and I assured him that I would be a very hard
worker and would not let anyone down.
When we arrived home from the park, I had to attempt to help Ava with her
homework. This was much easier said than done. Google was not very helpful in
its translating for homework, unless it was math. Math headlines were easiest for
Google to translate. It was all add, subtract, multiplying and dividing. I always
enjoyed helping Ava with her math homework. After finishing up her homework,
Ava showed me a letter from school.
The letter stated, “There will be a forest tour tomorrow. All of the girls must wear
long dresses and boots becauseof all of the insects.” I called the schooland spoke
with Ava’s English teacher, so that I could make sure that I understood the letter
correctly. I did not want any repeats of what had happened the last time. When I
got off of the phone, I had to explain to Ava that she would not be able to go on the
forest tour the next day. She did not own any boots and I would not be able to
purchase any in time. I could see the frustration in her face, but thankfully she was
15. a mature 7 year old child. She stayed calm for a change and even though I knew
that she was mad at me and thought that it was my fault, she did not yell and
scream like I had first expected.
During the forest tour the next day, Ava had to stay at schooland I met her there.
We bothmet with her English teacher, so that we could work on a plan so we
could communicate better. We knew that Google would not work forever. Plus, I
was having a hard time figuring out how to spell the words that Ava was saying in
German. We worked out a plan for the two of us to stay after school4 days a week
for lessons. We would spend 2 days working on German for myself and 2 days
would be spent working on the English language for Ava. I had a feeling that it
would be much easier for Ava to learn English than it would be for me to learn
German. It is really difficult to teach old dog new tricks as they say.
I was getting a few lessons at work though, since many of the guys I worked with
spokeGerman. It was getting easier for me to pick out certain key phrases and
sayings. I loved my new job and enjoyed learning all of the new techniques. I
enjoyed my coworkers company and the fact that my hours coincided with Ava’s
schoolhours, my life seemed to be getting much better.
Months passed where we seemed to have the same routines. We get up, go to
work and school, go to the park, go home and do homework and eat dinner, then
go to bed. The next day would be the same. Ava still did not seem to like me
much, but at least she was speaking to me a bit more. Her English was improving
immensely, and well, my German was coming along. At least we were able to
understand each other more and more. It was easier for me to understand the
letters that were being sent home from schooland from speaking with the English
teacher so often, I learned of things that Ava would need for future school
activities with plenty of notice. Ava was not going to have to miss out on a school
function because she did not have the properclothing or materials again.
I was making adequate money with the construction company and life seemed to a
normal for the two of us. We were bothas happy as we planned on being, even
though Ava still wasn’t happy with me. She couldn’t seem to get over the fact that
I missed the first 7 years of her life and I didn’t know how much longer it would be
before she even started to forgive me. Even though I wasn’t sure how she would
feel about it, I started to plan a birthday party for her. Her birthday would be the
following month and she would be 8 years old. I knew that I couldn’t have
anything elaborate, but I thought that something at the park would be nice.
16. That night, I decided to sit down and talk to Ava about it.
I said, “Ava, your birthday is next month.”
Ava: “I know, I will be 8 years old.”
I said, “Yes, I know that you will be 8 years old. I wanted to know if you would
like to have a party at the park with your friends. We could have something to eat
and cake and drinks. There could be balloons and games. What would you think
about all of that?”
Ava sat quietly for a moment and then said, “I guess that that would be okay.
Would I get to invite whoever I want?”
I told her, “Yes, you can invite as many of friends as you would like. It is your
birthday after all.”
After a moment, she looked at me and said, “Thank you.”
Ava then stood up and got ready for bed. I sat in the living room for a while
longer, partially in shockthat we had had a complete conversation without us
becoming angry or exasperated with each other.
I spent the next month making arrangements for Ava’s party. I wanted to make
sure that I was doing everything correctly since I had never thrown a party before.
I was not sure that I had even been to a child’s party before. The only thing that I
knew was that you had to get invitations out soonerthan later. That was a given
with any party.
I decided that Ava could make her own invitations if she wanted to, so I gave her
the choice. This was something that she decided she wanted to do, so we headed
to the store to get everything that we needed. As we were gathering supplies, I
asked her how many friends she planned on inviting. She said that she wanted to
ask 30 of her friends and I thought that that sounded like a good number. If it
wasn’t at the park, I would’ve had to say no, but being that it would be outside, I
knew that it would work out fine. Next, I would just have to figure out how much
food I would need.
Ava worked very hard one weekend on all of her invitations. She took quite a bit
of time working on them, which made me proud. I had asked her to sit on the
17. balcony with me while she was working on them, so that we could both get some
fresh air and soak in the rays of the sun. The weather was beautiful that weekend
and I didn’t want to waste a minute of it by being inside. When the invitations
were completed, we put them in the mail and headed to the park to play.
When we reached the park, one of my friends was there with his wife and children
and I braved the inevitable. I knew I had to ask someone how I should go about
planning the food for this party. I figured that my friend’s wife would know more
about it than I would.
I said, “I am planning Ava’s birthday party for here next month and she just sent
out 30 invitations. I need to know how much food and drink and cake I will need
for the party. I have no idea at all what I will need.”
My friend’s wife looked and me and laughed, saying, “I will help you with
whatever you need.”
I was so grateful that I had someone to help me even a little bit. We both came up
with a list of food that the children would like to eat and she told me what I should
purchase. She gave me different amounts, since what I would need would depend
of how many people would be able to come. I felt much better and so relieved
when I left the park that afternoon to go home. I had a plan and I knew that I could
execute that plan.
The next month flew by really fast and I found myself busy with work and Ava. I
found that I was so exhausted by the time we got home at night, that I was barely
able to keep my eyes open long enough to help her with her homework and make
her dinner. I didn’t think much of this, until Ava started acting out again. She was
becoming sullen and moody and would not talk to me most of the time. She would
not answer me when I asked her what was wrong and I had no idea what I should
do. With her party just two days away, I decided to leave her alone and hope that
things would work out on their own.
On the day of her party, the sky was bright blue, the sun was shining and there was
not a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect day for a party. All of the people that she
invited were coming, so I had purchased enough food to feed a small army. It was
worth it for Ava though.
We headed over to the park early, so we could claim a few picnic tables and
benches and then set to decorating the area. We had balloons and streamers that
18. we needed to hang up and then we had to get all of the games together. Ava had
decided that she wanted to have a water balloon fight, as well as hoola hooping,
bubble blowing, pin the tail of the donkey, three legged races and much more. I
think that she had enough planned that the party should last at least a week! I
knew that she would have a good time. If only she would speak to me then my life
would be perfect.
We finished setting everything up and the food was delivered. All we needed to do
was wait for everyone to show up, so that the fun could begin. Shortly after that
moment, the guests began to arrive and the party was started. We decided that
everyone should eat some of the food before the games began, so people started to
fix up plates. Everyone found a place to sit and talk for a little bit. I had told Ava
that we would save the water balloon fight for the last activity, but that she could
choosewhat order she wanted to do everything else.
She decided to do pin the tail on the donkey first, so we had the guests take turns at
being blindfolded and spun around, so that they could try to get that tail in the
properplace. Not one of those children managed to get it in the right spot, but boy
did they have fun trying. After that, the children decided to do the three legged
races and it was hysterically funny as we watched each set of children with their
legs tied together, try to make their way to the finish line. There were a few bumps
and bruises at the end, but at least they were laughing. Ava decided that the hoola
hoop portion should end up being a contest to see whom could hoola hoop for the
longest period of time. I ended up being one of the judges for this and I was
amazed at how long some of the kids could keep those hoola hoops up and around
their hips. I think one personhad that hoop going for a full four minutes or more.
Next, we all sang happy birthday to Ava and I was so grateful that I had asked her
English teacher to teach me how to sing it in German. I thought I saw a little smile
in Ava’s eyes when she heard me. We had the cake after she blew out her candles
and then all of the guests blew bubbles at each other. I was exhausted from
watching the children play all afternoon, but I knew that the best part was coming
up next. It was finally time for the water balloon fight.
I pulled the water balloons out of their hiding spotand called all of the children
over and explained the rules to them. “You can throw these balloons at anyone
that is here for the party. Do not throw them at people’s faces and do not throw
them at anyone what is here to just enjoy the park.” After that, I moved back
quickly and let them all have fun. It was amazing to see how quickly those
balloons were used up and I decided that I should buy more soon, so that Ava
19. could do this with her friends again really soon. It seemed to be the best part of the
At this point, everyone seemed to be really tired, so the guests headed home and
Ava and I were left to clean up the park. We knew that we had to pick up all of the
trash and remnants of the water balloons. It took some time, but the park looked
great when we were finished. We headed home with the bags of garbage and
leftover food and cake. We decided to eat leftovers from the party for dinner, since
we were too tired for anything else. Ava still wasn’t really speaking to me, but I
was too tired to address that issue that evening. I decided that we could talk about
it the next day after school.
After schoolthe next day, I told Ava that we needed to talk. I told her that she
couldn’t keep treating me like the enemy and that I was doing the best I could with
her. I wanted our relationship to be better than what it was like at the moment.
She was quiet for a while after I spokeand then I heard, “I don’tlike it when
you’re really tired when you come home at night and you don’tspend any time
with me. It was nice for a while, because you were paying attention to me. Now it
seems like you are bored with me and go right to bed after you eat.”
I was in shock. I knew I had been tired lately, but I didn’t realize how it was
affecting my poor, sweet girl. I pulled Ava in for a hug and told her that I was
sorry and that I would work on spending time with her like I did in the beginning.
I explained to her how physically demanding my job was, but that it wasn’t an
excuse to not spend time with her. I would have to find a way to get some much
needed sleep and rest without compromising my daughter’s time with me.
I decided that we would go out for dinner that night. It is something that we had
never done since she came to live with me, so it was definitely something special.
I felt that the money spent would be well worth it in the time and energy that I
would save. We went back to the restaurant that I went to the first two nights that I
had been in the city. They same people were still working there and they actually
remembered me. I guess that I make quite the first impression. They were
shocked that I could actually speak German a little better and they fell in love with
my beautiful Ava. At some point in time, every worker came over to have a
conversation with her and she was beaming from the attention.
All of a suddenit hit me. Ava was lonely! Yes, she had a lot of friends and yes
she had me, but it didn’t seem to be enough. She wasn’t really, really close to any
of her friends, they were more like acquaintances to her and I was only her dad.
20. And I hadn’t done my bestwith paying attention to her lately anyways. Ava
needed and wanted and craved attention. She needed a best friend or two in her
life, she needed to feel like she was wanted. She had lost so much at an early age,
especially when she lost her mother when she was only 5 years old. Since I wasn’t
around then, she felt like she had no one that cared about her. I had no idea why I
didn’t think about this sooner! What type of father was I if I didn’t understand my
After a delicious dinner, we headed back to the apartment and sat out on the
balcony for a little bit. The stars were just starting to come out and even though I
knew that it was Ava’s bedtime, I wanted and needed to keep her up a little while
longer. I didn’t want to lose the magic from that night.
I told her that I understood what she needed now and that I was going to try my
best to give it to her. I said that I knew that she missed her mother and that I did
too. I knew that she needed lots of attention and that I had not been giving her that
attention for a few weeks. I then asked her if she had any ideas for how she would
go about doing things that would make her happier.
To my surprise, she wanted to take an art class. I knew that she loved to create
things. This was evident when she was making her party invitations. I told her
that I would ask around town the next couple of days and see where art classes
were offered. Then I asked if there was anything else that she would like. She told
me that she enjoyed dinner that night and if we might be able to go back to that
restaurant again sometime. I told her that that was definitely possible.
We spent a few more minutes gazing at the stars and enjoying the quiet of the night
before we headed inside to go to bed.
After I dropped Ava off at schoolthe next morning, I headed into work. I asked
some of my coworkers if they knew of any places that had art classes for kids.
One of my coworkers had a daughter who happened to be the same age as Ava and
she tookart classes. He gave me the information and I decided to stop by there
after I picked Ava up from school.
When I went to pick Ava up that afternoon, I told her about the art class. I also
told her that we were going to go and check it out on our way home from school.
She was shocked that I was able to find something so quickly and I was hoping
that it would not be too expensive for the classes. We found the art center easily
enough and it just happened that the class for Ava’s age group was going to be
21. starting a few minutes after we got there. The director for the center asked Ava if
she would like to try the class, while she talked to me about all of the details. Ava
was thrilled with this suggestion and to be honest with you, so was I.
Ava went into the classroomand the teacher immediately made her feel welcome
and introduced her to the other students. My coworker’s daughter was there as
well, so I was hoping that maybe, just maybe they could become friends as well. I
went into the director’s office and listened to the director tell me all about the
center. She told me that they received donations and grants from businesses,
which allowed them to keep the costat a minimum for the students and their
parents. The class that Ava was eligible for met once a week, but they were
always having special events as well. There was even one night a month when
students could be dropped off for a class and party and the parents could have a
few hours to themselves to run errands or have some alone time.
I was thrilled with everything that I was hearing and told the director that as long
as Ava enjoyed her class that afternoon, he would be signing her up. I thanked the
director for her time and then went to sit in the waiting room until the class was
finished. Ava came out at the end, all smiles and talking a mile a minute. Her
words kept going from English to German, so I was having a slightly difficult time
keeping up with her. I finally got a chance to get a word in as she was stopping to
taking a breath, so I asked, “did you have a good time? Is this something that you
would like to do?”
She immediately said, “YES!”
I laughed and then told her about the special events that the center had including
the one where the parents could drop them off once a month. She wanted to do all
of those as well, so we went back to the director’s office so I could fill out all of
the paperwork and get her signed up. It was nice to see Ava so excited about
something for a change.
She could not stop talking the entire way back to our apartment. She was telling
me about her class and the teacher and all of the new friends that she made. She
even told me that the teacher told her about some of the projects that they were
going to be making over the next few weeks. They would be doing a collage and
then working on a ceramics project. She loved the idea of being able to work with
clay. She said that the teacher told her that it felt wet and goopywhen you were
working with it, but that it would get all hard when they placed it in the kiln.
22. From what I remember, she continued talking all of the way through dinner and
was still talking as she got ready for bed. Obviously I had started to do something
right as her mood was starting to improve.
The next morning, Ava could not wait to get to schooland tell her teachers all
about her art class and the project that she had started. They were all thrilled to see
her smiling and so happy. Even her English teacher was happy to see how well we
were communicating together. It had taken many months for the two of us to get
to this point, but it had been worth all of the hard work.
The next two weeks were busywith work, school, trips to the park, art class and
homework, but I did not forget my promise to Ava about returning to the restaurant
for a dinner out. I decided to surprise her one day on our way home from school
with the news that we would be going out to eat that night. She shrieked with
excitement and started to jump up and down like any normal 8 year old would. We
stopped home really quick and then headed to the restaurant, so we could get there
early. I figured that Ava would have a better chance at speaking with everyone at
the restaurant if we could get there before their busy time.
Ava walked in the doorto the restaurant like she owned the place and started
talking up a storm with the girl that seats everyone. Once everyone heard Ava’s
voice, they all started to come to the front of the restaurant. After I let them all
know that we would be here for a while, they went back to what they had been
working on when we arrived. Ava loved the attention as usual and was thrilled
that she could share the news of her art classes. She even mentioned to them that I
was going to be able to drop her off one night next week and then have a couple
hours to myself before I had to pick her up again. They all laughed at that and
asked me what I planned on doing. I laughed and said that I would probably end
up taking a nap!
We had a nice dinner as usual and had a leisurely stroll home. Ava asked if we
could sit out on the balcony like we did the last time we had eaten out and I told
her that we could. She enjoyed looking at the stars and we had bothstarted to
research some of the constellations together. It was nice to see that we bothhad
something in common after all of this time. When we got home, I took the
computer out to the balcony and pulled up a map of a constellation, so that we
could try to match it to the sky. There was not a cloud in the sky, which was
always helpful when a person was stargazing. Ava had a look of pure contentment
on her face and was actually more than a little disappointed when I said that it was
23. her bedtime a little while later. I promised her that if the sky was clear the next
night, that we could come out and look at the stars again.
That seemed to appease her for a little bit, but I could tell that her attitude was
changing and it was becauseshe was not getting her way. It was the life that I had
to get used to since I had a daughter. I didn’t always like it when her attitudes
came up, but I was learning how to ignore them a little better. As long as it was
not over a major issue, they usually did not last too long. If there was anything I
could have changed in my life, it was have been to get those 7 long years that I had
missed in her life back. I did not even have a picture of Ava from when she was a
baby. All of the pictures had gone missing when her mother died and there was no
way that they could ever be replaced.
I decided not to dwell on the past and to look forward to the future instead. I
figured that I could make sure that I took pictures of Ava throughout the year and
these would be the memories that we could cherish. We could also cherish all of
the time that we were spending together as those times meant more than anything
that we could spend money on.
I approached Ava with the idea of working on a project together. I thought if we
could keep a journal of things that we do together and pictures of the things that we
have done together, it would serve as a memory bookfor the two of us and our
times together. We could go through this bookwhenever we would want to and it
could be a way for us to get through any tough times that we were having.
We had been through a lot together in the last year and few months and I didn’t
want to forget any of the moments that we spent together. I wanted to remember
how hard we had both worked to earn each other’s trust. I wanted to remember
those times, so that when something got hard for the two of us in the future, we
would know that we could find a way to get through it like we had in the past. I
knew that the future was not going to be easy all of the time. Even though every
parent wants a nice and rosy relationship with their child, there are always going to
be bumps along the way. I knew that both Ava and I would have to continue
working together on growing our relationship and making it one that would last a
I had grand plans for the two of us. I knew that it would be a while before I could
take her to my country for a visit, since she could not leave Germany until she was
18. I had no desire to go back to my country to live any longer. Germany was
now my home, because that’s where Ava belonged. I did however, want to travel
24. the world with my daughter and show her places that I had been. I wanted her to
be adventurous like I was and I wanted her to be able to broadenher horizons. I
wanted to do this together, the two of us, as a family. I owed this much to her, to
her mother and to myself.
I had grown a lot since I had come to Germany for my daughter and I knew that I
would continue to grow in ways I never would have imagined in the years to come.
I had my beautiful Ava to thank for that and I am so grateful for everything that
she has taught me. I am looking forward to our future together and all of the new
memories that we will share.