HSFTP – 27 Ricky, my Only Child

Ricky was three years old when I divorced his cheating alcoholic father. His father swore I would never get a penny from him. He kept his word. After my divorce in July 1972, I moved in with Nigg and his wife, Inge, who lived in Radelstetten, a tiny farmer’s village near Schwabisch Gmuend. My mother who returned to Germany after 7 years in Turkey, also lived with me.

I decided the little town with the lush green countryside would give me enough strength and energy to overcome the divorce. Since Ricky had spent the last 3 years in Nuremberg, the farm animals were new to him. So was his newly found playmate Heidi.

I felt Ricky needed the silence and easygoing way of the village. The divorce had placed a severe burden on him. He started wetting the bed and woke up some nights sweating and tortured by nightmares. I didn’t know what to do. I was unsure of myself and our future.

I blamed myself for putting my child through the entire trauma. My mother advised me to be strict with him and to beat his behind when he wet the bed. I ignored her, after all, Ricky was my child. I tried to give him all the love I could and spent as much time with him as possible. I also needed to help out with the household expenses.

I started working at a restaurant three houses up the street. Work started at 5 p.m.. That gave me all day with Ricky. He responded to my intense care and recuperated quickly. So did I.

A month later I started going out with Hansjork, a neighbor, who asked me out for an evening dance. My spirit and confidence soared.

Hansjork’s younger sister, Maus, became my only friend. I liked her and trusted her in spite of the eight year age difference. We laughed a lot and I shared the story of my horrible pregnancy with her.

I vomited for 8 months, sometimes 10 times a day. The slightest smell of a cigarette or any other unnatural smell made me throw up. Yet, the doctor kept telling me I was not pregnant. Then, in my fifth month I had a miscarriage. The next day when the doctor was cleaning out my uterus he found a second fetus inside.

For three weeks I had to lay motionless in the hospital with IV’s in my arms to keep the second child from aborting. I had very little support from my husband. He even said he was ashamed to walk with me because I was too big.

On Tuesday, June 17th at 5:30 a.m. My water broke. Instead of being concerned, my husband told me I should stay in the bathroom and comb my hair. Thirty-six hours later Ricky was born.

Maus and I talked about many things. These talks were the first knots made in the rope of friendship which lasts to this day.

Soon, my life seemed to be in a balance. Ricky didn’t miss his father, his shyness disappeared, and the bed wetting stopped. He was playing like other little boys. I had a job and my child, a boyfriend and a new friend. I was happy.

Cracks appeared in the relationship between my brother and our mother. One Sunday morning, after a night of dancing with Hansjork, Maus came to tell me her mother would like to talk to me. We called her mother the First Sergeant of Radelstetten because of her commanding attitude.

I listened to the woman. “We are a very respectable family and Hansjork will one day inherit the ranch.” I nodded. “For this reason, and I know you will understand, he cannot have any further contact with you. He must find and marry a woman who knows about farming, comes from a good family, and is not divorced or has a child.”

I would never forget her last line, “If you are able to do anything good in your life, you tell Hansjork that you cannot see him anymore. If not, it is your fault if he loses his inheritance. Could you live with this burden?”

Speechless, I walked out of the house and four months later moved, with my child, to Stuttgart. Ricky and I were alone and the bond with him became tighter.

I found a good job as an interior decorator and put Ricky in preschool. The weekends were ours. We slept in, had breakfast in bed, played cards, went to the zoo and went sight-seeing in nearby cities.

At school he respected his teacher, but quickly developed an attitude. In the second grade the teacher tried, for the third time, to explain the same subject to another child. Ricky packed up his books and left. On the way out the door he handed the teacher a note with his telephone number on it and told her that when she was through explaining the same thing over and over she could call him at home.

Seven years later we moved back to Nuremberg with a dog, a cat and a guinea pig. Sleeping in on Sunday mornings was still Ricky’s favorite, but now he shared his bed with three animals. He did well in school but didn’t care for homework.

He played computer games for hours. At twelve, clothes and good haircuts became a must in his life. At the time I had two businesses, a high fashion boutique for women’s clothes and a factory for seat covers in Fuerth.

At 15 and 6 feet tall, his priorities changed to disco and girls. He enrolled in a trade college to be a beautician. It was his way of finding himself.

When I decided to leave Germany, Ricky was 21-years-old. On a Sunday morning, January 1991, Ricky and his girlfriend came for breakfast. I wanted to tell him about my decision in person, rather than over the phone. Days before I planned what I would say to him. I, however, was ready to abandon my plan if he objected.

I began with a question. “Ricky, what would you say if I moved for a couple of years to another country?”

He looked at me and said, “It is about time you do what you want. No matter where you go you always have a telephone and airplanes connecting the world.” He turned to his girlfriend and said in a joking tone, “My mother is going to call me from the ends of the world to make sure I am wearing clean underwear with no holes, and that I am changing my socks every day.”

July 22, 1996 I received a letter from Ricky’s girlfriend that informed me Ricky had been in a car accident. Apparently she couldn’t find my telephone number.

Frantic, I called her, then the doctor at the hospital. Ricky’s condition was very serious. The next day I was in Germany. Ricky had already undergone three brain surgeries with one more scheduled. The left side of his face was completely reconstructed and the doctor was concerned about whether he would lose one eye.

I was in a state of shock. My first tears fell the day Ricky regained consciousness. He didn’t recognize his girlfriend, or me, and he did not know his name. The impact of the accident severely damaged his brain. I was told there was no hope he would ever walk again, or live by himself.

I returned home and made legal preparation for Ricky to come to America. But because of the German government, my son is still in Germany. Since he is disabled, the court assigned him a legal guardian. Ricky’s father didn’t want the responsibility and I was not living in Germany. I’ve done what I can to bring him to America, but I have had to play legal games.

In March, 1999 Ricky’s legal guardian said he would get back to me as soon as he had word from the family court. Unfortunately, the court has not released Ricky.

In 1997, the hospital discharged him as a 100 percent mentally disabled person. Ricky has gotten a little better. Every Sunday we talk by phone. Unfortunately he doesn’t remember that we had talked the Sunday before.

He isn’t receiving any therapy to help him with his short-term memory. He has a hematoma but the doctors are not even considering removing it.

An accident ripped him out of the prime of life. At age 32 he has nothing to look forward to. I intend to continue fighting for him.

I will never give up until he is here in the United States with me. He deserves that much. I love him; he is my only child.