Regrets. I think we all have them. Regrets seem to pile up on each other, too.

One of mine is in regard to my mother and our relationship. She passed away a little over twenty-eight years ago from cancer. At that time, I was living far away from her and wasn’t able to be at her side. I can’t beat myself up over that, because even my father and sister (who did live near her) weren’t at her side. She slipped away overnight in her sleep in a nursing home.

My regret goes back further than that. I wish I’d talked to her more about her past. I wish I’d asked questions about her early life, what it was like growing up in the Sudetenland and Germany during and after the war. She occasionally talked a little about it, but I never really pushed her for more. I tell myself now that I just didn’t want to stir up painful memories for her. It’s likely, though, that I wasn’t that interested back when I was young. I was too immature then. And, of course I thought we had all the time in the world to talk about that stuff. But we didn’t. She only lived to age fifty-two.

It wasn’t until my kids were growing up that I started asking questions–of my aunt (my mother’s older sister). That aunt was at a point in her life when she seemed to want to talk about her childhood. It was good for me and for her, I think. Unfortunately, I still didn’t ask enough questions before she passed away.

One thing that especially stands out to me is that when I was a teenager, my family took a trip to Germany to visit relatives. While we were staying with my grandparents, my parents, grandparents, and an uncle decided to drive to a nearby town–Biberach-sel–they called it. Apparently, they had at one time lived there, and they wanted to see it again. My sister and I stayed behind at our grandparents’ home, not having any interest in the place we’d never heard of. I wish with all my heart that we’d gone with them. I wish I’d asked more about the place, too.

Since I didn’t ask the important questions, I don’t even know if the Biberach I used as one of the settings in my newest book is the same place they were talking about. I can’t find anything about ‘Biberach-sel’. But I used the Biberach I could find because the name meant something to me.