Karen Cota has journals full of stories and reflections written by her father. But she isn’t able to read any of them, as they are written in his native German language. When she and Gerhard Bedding connected at MTX’s annual meeting and celebration, she found a perfect solution. Gerhard, close in age to what her father would now be, offered his German language skills to translate the journals, written during the time of the Nazi occupation and WWII.
This resonates with Gerhard, who lived in the Nazi occupied Netherlands during that time.”I remember that 1943 was a big year in my life in which the war became much more palpable and threatening.” He says the fascinating thing is that apart from the German that they work to translate into English, they’re working with the aspects of the life of a young man that displayed great maturity at the age of 17.
“I get this whole multi-dimensional connection with this person I’ve never actually met, but feel as if I’ve come to know,” he says.
There are some challenges to the translating, explains Gerhard. The journals are hand written and he sometimes needs a magnifying glass to help make out letters that are difficult to decipher. In addition, Gerhard says that his German skills are limited to what he learned while in high school in the Netherlands; he is no expert in the language, he admits.
In addition to working on the journal translations, Gerhard found a companion for hiking area trails, an activity both he and Karen enjoy. Their ongoing meetings combine time spent fulfilling the requests of both members, while strengthening a connection between the two, who have gradually established a relationship that in some ways resembles a father/daughter bond. Karen Cota even shares the name of Gerhard’s own daughter, Karen, who is just six months older.