Who is Inge? Dominique asked the question over lunch the other day. He found the mention of her name here and didn't know what it meant.
I guess I haven't really explained, have I?
Inge Jeike was my best friend in high school. After graduation, she went to the University of Colorado (CU) in Boulder and I went to Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins. It was during my freshman year at CSU that I met Charlie. We were married just 7 months after we met - on September 7th, 1968. Back in those days it was unthinkable to live together before you were married - at least as far as my father was concerned! So Charlie and I moved into a cute little house in Ft. Collins and both of us continued our studies - I was a sophomore, he was a graduate student.
However, the marriage didn't last, and we were divorced in June 1972 - shortly before my graduation from college. I moved in with Inge and she and I planned a trip to Europe to celebrate our college graduation. We found a charter flight that was offering one-way tickets from Denver to Paris for $100 ! Let's go! Furthermore, Inge's sister had been living and teaching in Germany and she left behind a Volkswagen Beetle for Inge.
September 1, 1972 - Inge and I boarded the plane to Paris and a day or two later, we took the train to Germany, picked up the VW, and took off on a tour of Europe with no plans, no reservations, no idea where we'd end up - following our "pif". Our road trip lasted more than three months and included several countries and lots of adventures. Here we are in Greece enjoying a fish dinner fresh from the sea.
But here's a surprise - Charlie bought a ticket on the same charter flight. He "followed" me to Paris. And eventually, with Inge's help, he won me back and we got back together in Paris. There is a LOT more to that story, but this is the very abbreviated version.
Back to Inge: She stayed in Paris for a while longer and then eventually moved back to the U.S. She was working as a marketing director for a ski resort in Lake Tahoe when she was killed in a small plane crash carrying her boss and a couple of co-workers. It was in August, 1977. She was 27 years old. I was here in Paris, pregnant with my son Eric, and unable to return to Colorado for the funeral.
I often think about the blessings that my life has provided me - my long term relationship with Charlie, my incredible sons, luck in my career(s). Inge missed out on the long term relationship. She never had children. And so every morning when I wake up to a new day filled with love, filled with possibilities, filled with LIFE, I make an effort to appreciate these precious days, these precious gifts, and I resolve to observe and appreciate every day that I have on this earth. And what better day to remember than the first day of a New Year.
Love and blessings and joy and appreciation to all.
Happy New Year