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Post Getting Away from It All: Germany
Created by John Eipper on 04/15/18 4:22 AM

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Getting Away from It All: Germany (Patrick Mears, -Germany, 04/15/18 4:22 am)

in response to John Eipper's question and John Heelan's story, I can add my two cents.

Sometime in my late 50s, I decided that I was ready and able to retire from the active practice of law but wished to remain somewhat active in my profession and pursue other interests--e.g., reading the many books that I had collected over the years but had no time to open, researching and filling in the gaps in my family's history, learning a foreign language, devoting more time to my son, Eddie, and my daughter, Tricia, who now is a cinematographer in NYC, all the while living in Europe.  My wife had passed away from appendix cancer in 2006, and afterwards I had met my present wife, Cornelia, who is a German living in Heidelberg. So I decided to plan for retirement and a move to Germany thereafter.

In July, 2014, I retired and moved to Heidelberg, where I began to teach a course in International Trade Law at the University of Mannheim as a Lecturer or, as they call it over here, a "Honorardozent." Because I lacked sufficient knowledge about this subject, I designed my own crash course and, through constant studying during the last four years, now have a fairly good working knowledge of the subject--enough at least to teach a survey course to master's and undergraduate students here. At least, I haven't been fired yet.

The main benefit to me of "getting away from it all" is that I have done just the opposite by expanding old interests and developing new ones, which have nurtured emotional and intellectual growth that I likely would not have experienced in the same degree had I not retired and moved to a new environment. What has affected me the most by my recusal from law practice is appreciating many, previously "minor" things in my life that, on account of this change in perspective and attitude, have become extremely important to me. And there have been really surprising discoveries about my forbears and other family members on the way. One example is the trip that I made to Millstreet, County Cork, Ireland, the details of which I recounted in a WAIS post back then. Another one is something that I uncovered just recently that was a major surprise: a cousin of mine--the daughter of my first cousin and who was raised in Manhattan--had married in 1973 Evelyn Robert Adrian de Rothschild and had three children by him, although they are now divorced. As a child, my family had lost contact with this branch of the family (that of my father's sister) and, sorry to say, I had never met any of these people other than my Aunt "Tonnie" back in 1957.

In conclusion, I just hope every day that this adventure of discovery continues unabated and that my health holds up for some time to come. And I am thankful to my immediate family, friends, "teachers" and, ultimately, God, who have helped to bring me to this point in my life and to the realization that I have some paying back to do for these advantages bestowed on me.

JE comments:  Beautifully said, Pat.  It's not what you get away from; it's what you get away to.  And I note that like John Heelan, your life transition is what brought you to WAIS.

Here's the link to Pat Mears's splendid 2017 report on his trip to County Cork:


Next, we go to Western Australia and Martin Storey.

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  • A John Heelan Ancestor... (John Heelan, -UK 04/16/18 4:01 AM)

    Patrick Mears's interesting report about searching for his Irish roots (15 April) reminded me that in Cripple Creek's (Colorado) Gold Mining Museum, I spotted a waybill dated in the 1880s and signed by one "John Heelan." He was of my forebears escaping the Great Famine no doubt. It was a strange experience!

    I found this interesting website about the 1880 famine in the West of
    Ireland that perhaps inspired my eponymous ancestor to make the move:


    JE comments:  The engravings above remind us that just over a century ago, many Irish
    lived in Stone Age conditions.  Look at the primitive lodgings. 
    Compared to a mud-and-thatch hovel, a coldwater flat in New York or
    Boston would have seemed luxurious.

    There's nothing quite as uncanny as coming across your Doppelgänger.  Some years ago our dear friend Randy Black found the following for Yours Truly:


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