The Fall of the Berlin Wall. November 9, 1989. A Final Tribute to a True Hero. We again do not make any claims on the original Hoganís Heroes characters. All other characters are ours. But again, those characters are free for anyone to use, if you so choose. (The Tender Loving Care requirement now includes the character of Hershey)
This effort contains strong language. Our rating would be PG.
Berlin, Germany -- A city divided in a country divided -- East separated from West -- The Berlin Wall constructed in 1961, further divided the city of Berlin. On November 9, 1989 the Wall fell. 28 years after its construction, the city's borders were opened. East once again met West. And then the borders that had divided the whole country were opened. The fall of the Berlin Wall signified the end of the Cold War. -- So that finally the Reunification of Germany could begin after almost 45 years.
Washington, District of Columbia, Dulles International Airport, November 9, 1989, 1200 Hours
Rear Admiral Michael Robert Hogan of the Judge Advocate Generalís Corp just boarded a flight from Washington DC to Hartford CT. He had made this trip to his parentís home many times in the past seven months. But this trip was going to be different. He couldnít bring himself to admit that his father, Retired Major General Robert Hogan, was probably not going to live through his visit home this time. His motherís anxious call to him this morning was enough to confirm that fear within him.
Damn. Itís not like I didnít know this was coming. Dadís been sick for the last year. He never truly recovered from that heart attack last December. His doctor told him that he would need by-pass surgery or worse yet, a transplant. He refused treatment. At 80 years of age, he said that he didnít want to prolong the inevitable. Damn. He can be the most stubborn bastard -- Please forgive me, Dad -- No one could talk him out of his decision. On top of that, no one, but my mom and other siblings know the truth. He didnít want anyone to know. Not his friends. Not his siblings. Not even his grandchildren. No one. So all we could do was wait until his heart finally gave out. Which Iím afraid will be sooner now, rather than later. He had been doing okay until a few weeks ago. Before then he'd been up and around. Now he's bedridden, having no strength to even try getting up.
Michael Hogan glanced at the briefcase he carried with him. My father is nothing if not prepared. During all those trips home, he and his father had organized his fatherís estate, updated his father's Last Will and Testament, organized all the charitable donations his father wanted to make, as well as planning his father's funeral. Nothing was being left to chance. I think he truly had enough of that in his lifetime. I also know he doesn't want mom to have to think about anything.
In addition, Michael sat with his dad while he dictated final goodbyes to those who meant the most to him. Those his father hadnít wanted to burden with his illness. Those people -- except for my aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and own family -- were primarily my father's four longtime friends and war buddies. I guess. I could easily consider them my uncles as well, as Iíve known them all my life. They are all going to be so angry with dad. They would have all been here, every last one of them. To say goodbye, to help mom, and to be supportive. But dad doesnít want them to worry.
God Dad, I love you. -- But youíre just making this harder.
Atlanta, Georgia, Centers for Disease Control, Office of Dr. Gunnar Steiger Hogan, M.D.,
Director of Medical Research, November 9, 1989, 1300 Hours
Dr. Gunnar Steiger Hogan was just packing up to leave the office. He had gotten the call he'd been dreading from his mother today. His father, Major General Robert Hogan, was on his deathbed. Gunnar needed to catch a flight to Hartford CT within the hour. He needed to make sure he got there in time.
Oh Dad. This is so hard for me. Being a doctor, I understood your reasons for refusing treatment. I think I would have done the same thing myself. But being your son and coming face to face with your death, just makes me want to scream at you -- and tell you -- that you made the wrong decision. That you should have gone through with the by-pass surgery. That you should have done whatever the doctors told you. -- God. I don't want you to die. You mean everything to me.
All that I am, I owe to you and mom. I know you will tell me that I owe you nothing. I do know you mean every word of that. I know that you have always loved me as your son. And that there has never been any strings attached to that love. Goddamn. It's been so long, that it shouldn't be an issue. It's just that every once in a while I feel a debt needs to be paid to you -- for me -- and for Vicktor -- Now is one of those times.
I can't imagine what our lives would be like, if you and mom had not adopted Vicktor and I after our parents were killed. How privileged were we? To have the Military Governor of the US controlled Zone in Germany want to adopt us. What had made us so special? What would make you take in two additional babies to the two you already had? I was four years old and Vicktor only one at the time. And Michael was five and Elizabeth only three. Quite the instant family. Barely a year between us, except for Vicktor and then there was only two years between Elizabeth and him.
I know neither Vicktor nor I have any clear memories of our birth parents. Vicktor certainly does not. As for myself, I can't tell the difference between a real memory and one that you and mom supplied to us. I know you said you knew our parents - Karl and Frieda Steiger. I know that you told us that Michael, Elizabeth and I were playmates. I know you told us what happened to our parents -- the car accident. I know you said that we had no other relatives around capable of taking us in. I know you also told us that your decision, to take us in, was made almost as soon as you received word of my parent's death. You said you already felt that we were part of your family.
So I guess, I just feel that we need to somehow thank you. I've never known how really, so I always did the best I could to make you proud of me. As for Vicktor, I know he feels the same way. But his ways of showing gratitude have never been clear to me. But Dad, I know he loves you as much as I do. He just doesnít always show it in ways that make sense.
Dad, I just wish our journey together in this world would continue forever. But that's not to be. I just hope that your last few hours of life can be peaceful and painless. I love you Dad and I will miss you.
Providence, Rhode Island, Home of Dr. Frank Walker, PhD and
Dr. Elizabeth Anne Hogan-Walker, PhD, November 9, 1989, 1400 Hours
Elizabeth Anne Hogan-Walker just got off the phone with her husband Frank. She told him that she had gotten 'the call' and needed him to come home and take care of their two children, Kevin who was six and Charles who was only four. What Ďthe callí meant was that the boysí grandfather was very near death. Major General Robert Hogan had been adamant about not wanting Kevin and Charles to know about his illness. He didnít want them to worry about him.
ĎThey are too young,í my dad had said. And believe me. That was the end of the story. You learned fairly quickly as a child in the Hogan household not to go against your father's wishes. Not that he was really ever a disciplinarian, but more that he was so passionate about the things he cared about, that you hated to hurt his feelings. Not to mention that he had mastered the art of making you feel guilty. And guilt was a powerful manipulator in the Hogan household.
Oh Dad. The boys are going to miss you so. They always loved to hear you tell them 'war stories', even though they never really understood them. I still admit to not understanding them either. But I know that, at least, most are true. Or Peter, Louis, Ivan and Andy have been lying to us all these years as well!
Elizabeth had been running ragged since getting that call two hours ago. As a full-professor of Psychology at Brown University, she couldn't just leave without someone covering her classes. She was already on a lighter than normal schedule as she was seven months pregnant. She had just made a number of calls to the faculty staff. She had to let them know that she was going to take her maternity leave now -- starting today -- rather than two weeks from now. Her husband Frank was due home after his last class today. He would be home soon to take care of the boys. Then Elizabeth would be off, driving to Hartford to visit her father -- for the last time. - Oh Dad, I will miss you so.
All the activity and stress made Elizabeth feel a little lightheaded. God, I need to sit down. Being seven months pregnant takes a lot out of you. As she sat, Elizabeth felt the baby kick. She went to touch her stomach. Tears welled in her eyes and she began to cry. Oh Dad. I'm so sorry. You'll never get to see the new baby. I had so hoped you would. I hate to think of you not being here to see the birth of your sixth grandchild.
You had always been there for us, even when we used to embarrass the hell out of you as Military Governor. Like the time - during the annual toy drive meetings - that Michael, Gunnar, Vicktor and I booby-trapped the entrance to one of the guest bedrooms, so that the next person through the door would be covered in maple syrup. How did we know that Uncle Hans had changed bedrooms with the British Military Governor? Even though we got an evil stare, I know that you were laughing down deep.
I will so miss your sense of humor. I love you Dad. Never fear. Your new grandchild will get to know his or her grandfather. I promise never to let your memory fade.
New York City, New York, Apartment of Vicktor Steiger Hogan, November 9, 1989, 1500 Hours
Vicktor Steiger Hogan just rolled out of bed. He and the members of his band -- Crossbow -- had pulled an all-nighter at the recording studio. They had been getting ready for an appearance on the Tonight Show. So, he had come home exhausted at 8:00am this morning and had gone right to sleep, never noticing the blinking red light on his answering machine.
Damn. Whatís wrong with you? You knew things werenít going well. Oh God. Mom had called at 6:30am, then at 11:00am, and again at 2:00pm. You slept right through the phone ringing. -- Are you that oblivious? -- You asshole. -- The 2:00 oíclock call still said that dad wasnít doing well, but not that he was gone. Get your ass in gear Vicktor.
I need to call mom and let her know Iím on my way. Iíll never forgive myself if I donít get to say goodbye. Please Dad. Hold on until I can get there. I donít want you to die thinking that Iím such an ungrateful son that I wouldnít be there for you and mom. Not to mention, not being there for Michael, Gunnar and Elizabeth either.
God Dad. I know Iíve never lived up to the standards you set for the others. I know you loved me and supported me, but I could always tell when you were disappointed in me. I know it was mostly when I couldnít keep my head on straight - not thinking things through - oblivious to the consequences - Like today -- Oh DamnÖ
Please Dad, I hope you can forgive me, because at this point you might be the only one who will. -- Michael and Gunnar may never talk to me again. -- And Elizabeth will have the same disappointed look youíve always had when I screwed up. -- And mom. Oh Damn. Iíll never be able to face her if something happens to you before I get there.
Dad, I love you. Please hold on. I really do want to be there for you.
Hartford, Connecticut, Home of Retired Major General Robert Hogan,
November 9, 1989, 1500 Hours.
Retired Major General Robert Hogan had just dismissed the Army nurse that had been assigned to him when his health deteriorated sufficiently to keep him bedridden. The nurse had been there 24 hours a day, everyday, for the past three weeks. Damn. I hate feeling so helpless. Iím so glad this is almost over. It wonít be long now. I can tell. My heart feels so heavy and I canít even take a deep breath. -- I so just want to die in peace. -- I told the nurse to leave. -- I only want my family here. -- I know Michael, Gunnar and Elizabeth are on their way. -- Vicktor hasnít answered his phone messages. -- Damn Vicktor. Please call. At least I will know that you know. -- Then I can let go. -- I really do need to touch base with you all. -- I so need to say goodbye. -- Iím so afraid that God has no desire for me in heaven. -- Not after all Iíve done. -- So, I expect that weíll never Ďmeetí again.
Just then Beth Hogan entered the bedroom slowly, followed happily by Hershey, Rob and Bethís ten-year-old chocolate Labrador Retriever. The Army nurse had banned poor Hershey from the bedroom. He only got to visit his ĎDadí when that nurse wasnít around, which hadnít been all that often in the past three weeks. A smile appeared on Bethís face when she saw that her two Ďmení were very happy to see one another. Hershey seemed to instinctively know how to be gentle. Right now Hershey had his front feet on the bed, whilst Rob was trying to avoid getting his face washed the ĎLabrador Wayí.
"Rob," Beth said relieved. "I just heard from Vicktor. Heís on his way. He apologized. He said that after a long night at the studio he had come home, went to bed and never heard the phone." Beth was relieved that they had, at least, heard from Vicktor. But still she wanted to Ďthrottleí her youngest son for what he put them both through this morning. What goes around comes around with the Hogan boys, I guess. -- Children can certainly be a patience tester. -- Poor Rob -- I know he was distraught thinking that he may never get to see Vicktor before he died. -- At least Vicktor is on his way now. -- Poor Vicktor. He will never change. -- But I know Rob doesnít want him to either.
Rob just smiled at the news. The tussle with Hershey had been enough to take his breath away. So you will all be here. Thank God. Iím so glad.
Beth had come over to the bed. She moved the pillow from behind Robís head and sat, using her lap to cradle his head. They both sat quietly for a few minutes while Robís breathing returned to normal. "I shouldnít have let Hershey do that. Iím sorry Rob," Beth said sadly as she caressed her husbandís forehead.
Rob looked up into Bethís eyes. He raised his right hand to stroke her cheek. "Donít be. Hershey and I just got to say our Ďgoodbyesí. Thatís all." Rob comforted and then saw Bethís face fall. He watched as she began to cry.
It was the first time during all this that Beth had let Rob see her cry. Beth started to get up. I so wanted to be strong for Rob. I canít just fall apart. Not now.
Rob reached up with his hand and touched her face. He wanted to keep her with him, but he really wasnít actually strong enough to stop her if she really wanted to leave. "Please stay," Rob said tears coming to his eyes as well. "I love you Beth. I so wanted to make this easier on you."
Beth stayed, repositioning herself under Robís head. "And I so wanted to be strong for you," she said her eyes still bright with tears.
Beth and Rob held each other for a long while. Both shedding the tears that had not come before now. Those tears would recede before their children arrived. They both needed to be strong for them.
Hartford, Connecticut, Home of Retired Major General Robert Hogan,
November 9, 1989, 1630 Hours.
Beth greeted her oldest son Michael at the door. "Oh Michael. Iím so glad you are here." Beth took her son into a big embrace.
Michael willingly returned the embrace and kissed his mother lightly on the cheek. "Hello Mom. How is he?" he asked nervously.
Beth broke the embrace and looked into her sonís eyes. "Be ready. Your father is very weak. But, he has been waiting for you, Michael. You need to know that he is ready to die. But that he is still completely of sound mind, so no pretending or placating. Okay?" Beth told her son. Rob wonít stand for coddling. I learned that a long time ago. Michael knows it too, but it doesnít hurt to be reminded.
"Okay," replied Michael as he headed for his fatherís bedroom. He opened the door and was shocked at how his father looked. Damn. That much of a change in just two weeks. Luckily the shock never registered on his face. "Hello Dad," he said as he approached the bed. Michael took hold of his fatherís proffered hand, while using his other hand to brush back the hair on his fatherís forehead to give him a kiss.
"So youíre not too old to give your father a kiss. Huh Michael?" his father asked with a smirk.
"Never Dad. Never," Michael said smiling. He paused and then said, "You look like shit, you know." No coddling. But be careful how far you push. Idiot.
Rob Hogan burst out laughing or tried too. He at first couldnít catch his breath. Rob saw Michaelís face fall. As his son started to panic, Rob held up his hand in a staying motion. It took a minute, but Robís breathing regulated. Rob smiled and said quickly. "Oh God Michael. Itís okay. That was the best almost-laugh Iíve had in weeks."
Michael was quiet at first and then said, "You know Dad. This hurts so badly. It would be a lot easier to pretend this isnít happening. But I want you to know that I love you and Iím going to miss you. Kelly and Chrissie send their love too. I know you didnít want me to tell Chrissie. But sheís a very sharp sixteen-year-old. Not much gets past her."
"Youíre a good son Michael," Rob answered after a short intake of breath. "I wanted to thank you for all that youíve done. Helping me close out my affairs. I know it had to be hard on you and for that Iím sorry. But, it would have been too hard for your mom. I love you Michael. Please make sure that Kelly and Chrissie know that I love them too."
A knock on the bedroom door interrupted them. Gunnar entered slowly. "Hey can I come in?" he asked sheepishly. "Or is this a private function?" Play it cool. Hold it together.
"So both my oldest sons think theyíre comedians," Rob said smiling. "This function is open to the public."
"Hello Dad," Gunnar said and almost step-by-step repeated his older brotherís greeting. The kiss on the forehead and all. He too had been shocked by his fatherís appearance. As a doctor, he knew enough not to react. Damn. Thank God, mom is playing interference. Doctor or no, I still might have just burst into tears.
"So youíre not too old to give your father a kiss. Huh Gunnar?" his father asked with a smirk.
"Never Dad. Never," Gunnar replied smiling. He tried to keep it light for his dadís sake, but he just couldnít. His expression turned sad. Gunnar knelt by the bed and grasped both of his father's hands in his, as if to pray. He then rested his forehead on them. "God Dad. Iím so sorry. I love you. Iím going to miss you so very much. Vicktor and I owe everything that we are today to you and mom." Gunnar smiled up at his father, trying again to infuse humor, "Although. Why you would want all the credit for VicktorÖ I donít know."
Rob smiled and extricated one his hands from his sonís grasp. He put that hand on his sonís shoulder to comfort. "Damn Gunnar. I love you too. Very much," Rob said. "But you need to realize, that you and Vicktor owe us nothing. Your mother and I always wanted to tell you how privileged we felt when you and Vicktor came into our lives. But it had always sounded, in our heads, as though we were thanking your parents for dying. And it also meant that we would be starting to distinguish between the four of you."
Rob paused to take a few short breaths and then used his hand to lift his sonís face so he could look into his eyes. "There is no difference in our feelings toward any of you. I know you know that. But, in my weeks of lying flat on my back here, I finally came up with a way to express that there is truly no difference between the four of you in our hearts. That you are all our children and that we love you all the same," Rob said pausing again taking a short breath.
"You need to hear this too Michael," Rob said glancing at his oldest son. "Your mother and I made a conscious decision to bring you Michael, and your sister Elizabeth into our lives. We never made that decision lightly." Rob then turned his gaze to his other son. "We made the same conscious decision to bring you Gunnar, and your brother Vicktor into our lives. And we never made that decision lightly either. We wanted all four of you in our lives," Rob said seriously as he looked at both of his sons.
Then after taking another short breath, he smiled and said, "The only difference that existsÖ is that I never had to live through your motherís two additional pregnancies. What you probably never knew was that your father, the Major General, the Military Governor was a complete neurotic mess for those 18 months of pregnancies."
Both his sons began to laugh. Michael came over to stand behind his brother. He put his hands on Gunnarís shoulders but addressed his dad, "Wow. Thatís why Kelly and I stopped after one! I was a mess."
Gunnar turned and smirked at his brother. "I didnít learn my lesson until after two!"
All three men were sharing a quiet smile when they heard another knock at the door. It was Elizabeth. Michael whispered ĎFrank hasnít figured it out yetí to his father and brother as she entered.
Elizabeth was not expecting the grins on her brotherís faces or her fatherís for that matter. What were they talking about? Oh God, dad looks so thin and frail. "Hello Dad," she said as she approached the bedside. Her brothers had moved out of the way to let her sit on the bed beside her dad. Elizabeth kissed her dad on the cheek and immediately tears welled in her eyes. "Iím sorry Dad. I love you. And I so wanted to come in here and be supportive. I didnít want to start crying," she said as tears streaked her cheeks.
Robís eyes became bright with tears as well. I could never handle when Liz cried. Big tough dad that I was, it got me every time. At least this time I donít have to hide that fact. He reached up and wiped away the tears from his daughterís cheeks. "Itís okay Liz. Really. At least you didnít try to make corny jokes like your brothers," he said trying to lighten the mood a little. And then he changed the subject saying, "So how are you feeling? The baby must be kicking pretty hard by now." -- Oh God, I guess that was the wrong thing to say.
Elizabeth just completely broke down crying. So much so that both of her brothers came over to help console her -- and their father -- whose own eyes were also stinging with tears.
After a long moment Elizabeth said, her voice still not very steady, "Oh Dad, Iím so sorry. I so wanted you to see your new grandchild be born. Now you wonít be able too. Iím so very very sorry. I will miss you so much."
Rob was still fighting back his owns tears. He had to take a few short breaths to even begin to respond to Elizabeth. When he could he said, "Oh Liz. Itís the one thing Iíll regret most. Donít be sorry though. Just make sure that child grows up knowing whom his or her grandfather was. Thatís all I ask. Okay?"
Elizabeth could only nod. But as she looked at her dad, she saw his questioning glance at her belly. Oh no. Heís embarrassed to ask. Elizabeth smiled and took her fatherís hand and placed it on her belly. It stayed there until they both felt the baby kick. After a shared smile, her father removed his hand.
Rob closed his eyes, took as deep a breath as he could and then sagged into the pillow under his head. God, Iím so tired. This has been so much harder than I expected. Vicktor please come soon. Almost before he finished that thought, Gunnar was at his side holding his wrist. Checking for a pulse. Itís still there son. It isnít over yet. Rob opened his eyes slowly to see the distraught faces of three of his children. Damn. Is that what this whole thing is doing to them. Iím so sorry. He then saw how quickly the expressions changed to guarded sorrow, with a tinge of relief.
"Dad. Let me go get mom. Okay?" asked Michael now realizing that the time was fast approaching. Mom should be here. He started to get up and head for the door.
"No Michael," Rob said as loud as he could to stop his son. As his son turned back he said, "Your mother and I have already said our Ďgoodbyesí. I wanted this time, alone with my children. Your mother understands. I only hope that Vicktor can get here beforeÖ" Rob never finished that thought, but again laid his head back on the pillow. This time not closing his eyes, trying not to cause the near panic of a moment ago.
His children let him rest. He finally was able to close his eyes. He knew Liz was still sitting on the bed holding his hand. Everyone was quiet for a long time. But then Rob heard angry whispered rumblings from the other side of the room. Gunnar and Michael.
"Where is he?" asked Michael, his voice rising in anger.
"That bastard canít be anywhere on time. Mom said he slept through three phone calls," replied Gunnar.
"What the hell is the matter with him? This isnít just being late for dinner. Damn it," Michael continued.
"Iíll kick his ass, if he doesnít get here soon. I might even do it anyway," Gunnar threatened.
"Iím with you on that. Dad will be so disappointed. I donít want it to end this way," Michael replied.
"Yeah I know. Dadís final wish was to have his children here. Vicktor, you are such an ungrateful bastard," Gunnar said angrily.
Elizabeth saw her father open his eyes and she quickly made a shushing sound in the direction of her older brothers. They stopped their rumblings and approached their fatherís bed. All three got an evil stare from their father.
Rob began in as much as a command tone as possible, which wasnít much of one. "All right, I heard that. Knock it off. I want to see my youngest son in one piece when he gets here. Understood?" The tone at least got the point across. His sonsí faces dropped just a little. He took a breath then continued, "Alright. I know your youngest brother -- my youngest son -- isnít the most Ďon the ballí. But his heart has always been in the right place. Thereís a lot to be said for that. You three could benefit allot from his amount of heart, if you let it slip by those defenses. Iíll take the blame for those, because I spent a lot of my life building those defenses in you. Vicktor just never followed my lead. And Iím glad," Rob paused to take another breath and looked directly at his three children. "Iíve already forgiven him for being the person I could never be. You should too," Rob said almost as an order.
Rob watched as his children took the reprimand. Gunnar and Michael turned away. Elizabeth just squeezed his hand tighter. Of the three, I know Elizabeth understands Vicktor the best. Iíve always pushed the two boys way too hard. I know itís not a bad thing to be determined and committed. Itís actually all I understood then. But I realize now, that having a free spirit isnít a bad thing either. I wish I could have taught them all how to balance both equally.
It was then, that the door to the bedroom flew open and Vicktor burst in. Everyone was startled. For a woman seven months pregnantÖ she moves quickly, thought her father as Elizabeth jumped out of the way as Vicktor rushed to his fatherís bedside.
Vicktor knelt down and grabbed his fatherís hand. There were standing tears already in his eyes. He kissed his fatherís hand slightly. "God Dad. Iím so sorry. Please forgive me. I wanted to be here for you. Iím going to miss you so much. I was so worried I wouldn't get here in time to say goodbye. I never wanted you to think that I would desert you -- now especially," Vicktor spouted nervously.
Rob smiled at his youngest son and said, "Vicktor. Itís okay. Just your being here now is enoughÖ I love you too son. Donít worry. I never would have thought that you deserted me. I just so wanted to see your face before I died. And now I have."
Vicktor sighed and tried to smile slightly. He continued to hold his fatherís hand.
Rob turned to all of them and said. "I wanted to wait until all of you were here. I have one thing to ask of you all. I would hope that I would never have to ask this question of you. I know in my heart that each of you would follow through. But the Major General in me needs to make sure." Rob continued after a breath, "I want you each to promise me that you will take care of your mother. Weíve been married 44 years. It will be the first time sheís alone. Iím not sure how I would have dealt with it if your mother had died first. So Iím worried for your mom." Again he paused to take a breath. "Actually, sheís so much stronger than I ever was. Sheíll probably be just fine. But I just want to know that youíll be there for her."
There was a sudden burst of loud talking as Robís children expressed his or her promise to their father. Only thing was that they were all talking at the same time. Rob just smiled and said, "Okay. Iíll take that as a yes." Everyone stopped talking as their fatherís head sagged into the pillow. Rob sighed but continued to smile at his children. God Iím tired.
Everyone was quiet for a long moment. Soon they all began talking softly and reminiscing. As time passed, all four children noticed that their fatherís whole manner had gradually changed. He wasnít joining in the conversation anymore, just listening. His whole body had become very relaxed. His breathing had gotten so soft, that you couldnít hear it anymore. -- He was just waiting to die.
The solemnity was broken as their mother came into the room very excited. "Michael. Turn on the television." She immediately went to Robís side. "Rob you need to see this," she said as she sat to cradle her husbandís head in her lap. She then grasped his hand tightly and kissed him on the forehead. "Youíre going to be so happy."
It took Rob a minute to focus on what Beth said. His eyes drifted to where Michael was fiddling with the television, but he still hadnít completely grasped what was going on. When the television came on, he heard his four children gasp in astonishment. They had all moved closer to the television, but made sure their father could still see. Then they all started talking at once very excitedly.
"God Dad. Itís coming down," Michael said excitedly, with a quick glance at his father and then back to the television.
"All youíve worked for Dad. Itís finally here," Gunnar continued, touching his father lightly on his leg, as he continued to watch the television.
"Damn. The borders are open!" Vicktor said unable to contain his excitement.
"Reunification canít be too far away," Elizabeth said with a smile, almost relieved.
Rob tried to focus hard on the television, but the only thing he made out clearly was his wifeís voice in his ear. "Rob. Itís all that youíve worked for. Itís beginning. The Berlin Wall is coming down. And the borders are opening throughout Germany. They are talking reunification." Rob smiled up at his wife and he grasped her hand tightly. Then he took a final look at his four children whose eyes were still glued to the television. He smiled once more at Beth. Then content, Robert Hogan closed his eyes for the very last time.
Beth tried to choke back the tears, but in trying, a heavy intake of breath occurred. Almost immediately her childrenís attention was drawn to her and then to their father. They knew instinctively that he was gone. Each came to console their mother and give a final goodbye to their father.
Vicktor was the one to ask the question they all wanted answered. "Mom. Did Dad see what was happening? Did he understand? If he could have died knowing that all he worked for was coming true. It would make this awful day -- somehow survivable. Did Dad really understand?"
Beth smiled at her four children. "He understood. Believe me, he understood."
Hartford, Connecticut, Home of Retired Major General Robert Hogan,
Christmas Eve, December 24, 1989, 1800 Hours.
Beth was waiting on the entire Hogan clan to arrive for Christmas Eve. Michael and his family, Gunnar and his family, Elizabeth and her family, and Vicktor would arrive shortly. They had all planned on being here. But when I received four packages special delivery from Alfred Shultz and the Schatze Toy Company with a note explaining that each package was for my children and their families, I called each of them to make sure they were coming.
Alfredís note said that the gifts were a small token of thanks from the Shultz family. To thank their father, Robert Hogan, for helping to reunite Germany as far back as that first Christmas Eve Toy Drive by the Schatze Toy Company after the war in 1946. Alfred said that his father Hans had always credited Rob with beginning the reunification process. Because Rob had worked tirelessly in getting the Schatze Toy Companyís toys distributed countrywide that Christmas Eve in 1946, even with the turmoil and uncertainty that had befallen Germany after the war.
Beth sat quietly waiting. She stared at the boxes and started to cry. Itís only been six weeks since youíve been gone Rob. All at once, it feels -- so long ago -- and just like yesterday. I miss you so. But this past six weeks has also been special for me. So many of your friends and family have been by my side, supporting the children and me. Itís been so wonderful...
You were remembered well at your funeral, you know. Ivan and Michael both made speeches. There was not a dry eye in the place. Alfred Schultz came that day too. How amazing was that, huh? Talk about people crying. I couldnít believe he had brought a piece of the Berlin Wall with him and asked that it be buried with you. I really hope somehow you know itís thereÖ
The doorbell interrupted Beth. It was Vicktor. She smiled at her youngest son. Heíd been early or at least on time for every function since his father died. Within minutes though, a steady stream of people started to show up. Beth had not told any of them about the packages from Alfred. She wanted to surprise them. So they had their traditional Christmas Eve celebration.
When everyone began to settle after all the food and festivity. She brought out the four packages and read the letter from Alfred to everyone. She gave the four packages to each of her children. Each package had a note attached that was not to be read until after the gift was opened. One by one out of the packages came -- teddy bears. But not just any teddy bears. These teddy bears were dressed in miniature US Army Air Corp bomber jackets and each had on a tiny Colonelís cap. ĎPapa Bearí was stitched onto each jacket pocket. And each was holding a piece of stone. Almost without opening the notes that came with the bears, everyone knew where the stones came from.
But for those skeptical in the group, the notes were read.
Each teddy bear carried a piece of stone from the Berlin Wall.
A Final Tribute to a True Hero
This copyright covers only original material and characters, and in no way intends to infringe upon the privileges of the holders of the copyrights, trademarks, or other legal rights, for the Hogan's Heroes universe.