- Posted February 28, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
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Trading In Her Dreams For Love
Sophie always dreamed of becoming a journalist. She wanted to attend The University of Munich, but after World War II the University was closed from damage. In 1952, Germany only allowed their citizens to attend the university closest to where one lived or was born. If Sophie wanted to be a journalist, The University of Munich was her only choice. With no options left, Sophie decided to come to America to live with her aunt and uncle in New York City. After being in New York around a year, her aunt and uncle attended a dinner party at their friend’s and Rudy’s neighbor’s house on Long Island. This is when Sophie first met Rudy Lehle.
“It wasn’t love at first sight,” said Sophie. “I had a boyfriend at the time, but I found Rudy very interesting. His mother was Austrian and his father a German, so even though he was an American citizen, we had a lot in common.”
After their first encounter, Rudy and Sophie went out a few times until Sophie got a letter in the mail telling her that the University of Munich would be opening again soon. In pursuit of her journalistic dreams, Sophie packed up all of her belongings in a trunk and her aunt, Rudy, and his mother dropped her off at the dock, not knowing when they would see each other again.
“Once I got back to Germany I found out that the university still was not open, and they did not know when it would reopen,” said Sophie. “After four months of waiting, I decided to head back to New York, and was welcomed home again by Rudy.”
It was that Christmas in 1954 when Rudy came to Sophie’s aunt and uncle’s house to celebrate with them. He asked for her family’s permission to marry Sophie, and shocked her by proposing. At this time, Sophie realized what a great man he was and that he was her new life. Marrying him would mean giving up her dream, but replacing it with a new one.
Throughout their 58 years together, Rudy and Sophie have had challenges. Sophie recalls a time when Rudy was working full time and attending college, and she had to take a bus, train, and subway for two hours to get to work. Since Sophie was an immigrant, she was not able to go to college in the states. Instead, she worked at a factory as a sewing machine operator making expensive swimsuits.
“My advice to young couples is that there will always be hard times and challenges,” said Sophie. “You just have to love and trust each other and find ways to make it work. Too many people today fight about money, but it was harder back then. We still made it through, so everyone today can too.”
Having moved to Houston from the mountains of North Carolina to be closer to their sons, Rudy and Sophie have enjoyed making new friends and living at The Village at Gleannloch Farms. They still like to keep their German traditions, and Sophie enjoys cooking traditional German dishes. Recalling another “tradition” they have, Sophie said her husband bleaches her hair every month, and has done so for 51 years.
“When I found out I was pregnant with my third son, I wanted to do something just for me,” said Sophie. “I asked my aunt at the beauty shop to bleach my hair. Rudy was startled at first, but then started getting used to it. We couldn’t afford for me to get it bleached all the time, so I taught him how to do it.”
Sophie says the little things like him bleaching her hair, or allowing her to go on long trips by herself have kept their marriage strong and thriving. They still enjoy going on day trips together and stay busy with various hobbies and interests.
“Rudy let me do things that other husbands would not,” said Sophie. “He gives me enough independence, and that is why we enjoy spending time together. That is why our marriage has made it so far.”