Author Archives: Author Agathe Von Kampen

About Author Agathe Von Kampen

Thanks for the visit to my blog. After the first ten years of my life as a refugee on the front lines, I had survived unspeakable horrors and was looking forward to immigrating to America when I was a teenager. Having heard stories about life in the United States from the American G.I'.s occupying Germany, they gave me hope that I could achieve the American dream too. But, with good intentions my mother married me off to the first American man who showed an interest in me. With unexpected, horrible results. At sixteen I found myself married to a diagnosed sociopath. After living in emotional hell for thirteen years, I found myself having to support two small children without the benefit of an education or any job skills. This led to a lot of poor choices since I had never learned to choose for myself - only to follow orders. Through a lifetime of errors I corrected one mistake at a time until now, at age seventy-eight I am now living the dream I have always dreamed of! Now living in beautiful So. Oregon, I am married to a very kind and loving man who treats me with the respect I deserve, as any human being has a right to. I live in a lovely home, nice community and have the pleasure of my children being respectable, contributing citizens of society. It has been a long journey but worth it. Warm Regards, Author, Agathe Von Kampen


No, I wasn’t lost.  I just didn’t know where I was – or where I was going.  I have no sense of direction – I mean, on the road.  I hate electronics but the GPS was invented just for me.  I am now able to drive without fear of winding up in tim-buck-two, as the saying goes.  I rely on that voice completely and it has gotten me to where I need to go safely now for a few years.  Life on wheels is good – until – she throws me a curve.

I had dropped my husband off at the boat ramp for his fishing trip and was driving home.  Piece of cake – right ? where I had made a right turn to go to the river I now needed to make a left – easy.  My GPS voice thought so too because she said “turn left” and when I started to make my turn and was alerted by horns blowing I read the sign “No Left Turns”.  OK, I snapped my wheel back in time to continue on straight and avoided an accident.  All was well, right ?  Wrong, because now I was lost – yes, that’s how bad my lack of sense of direction problem is.

Because I was a little shaken up I made several right turns to get out of traffic to park the car and get my bearings.  It felt good to sit there in peace and contemplate my situation and in time I maneuvered myself into the correct street and found my way home.

This is what I learned: Many times I get into a similar predicament in my emotional state.  I panic when something unexpected happens, throwing me into a spin.  When I calmly take stock, sometimes back tracking to the problem and correcting it I can enjoy the rest of the day – but when I keep spinning my wheels in the middle of the traffic I create chaos and things keep going wrong until I loose my way.

I was reminded of the old song by, I think it was Rosemary Clooney,  “Detour, there’s a muddy road ahead.  Detour, paid no mind to what it said”.

Lesson learned, let calm rule my life. 



Miracles come in many different forms.  In my little world the miracle a couple of days ago came disguised in the field of electronics.  Yes, those of you who know me will say “No way” because you know how much I loathe anything that is not human.  But here is an example of how things can change in an instant – and that includes humans.

For nine months I have lived with extreme anxiety over my one and only grand daughter expecting her second baby – mostly, my concern was over her mother – my daughter who has been the reason for my living since she made her appearance – well, I will just say some time ago since quoting women’s age is considered forbidden now-a-days (but just so you know, Doreen, I remember how long ago that was), anyway, ever since that very second my world has revolved around her – she has been  my reason for living.  And I know that her relationship with her daughter is the same.  

Now, the reason for my concern is that my grand daughter has some medical problems that could put her in jeopardy in case something would go wrong during delivery – and I was fully prepared to get on the very next plane in that event.

Now to the new found love for electronics – from hundreds of miles away I was kept in the loop via phone, cell phone, text, e-mail and, most of all the instant photos.  Sheer euphoria when I saw that perfect little boy just seconds after he made his appearance – with no problems.  What a miracle – to see it all happening with so much distance between us.  Once I relaxed that all chance of danger was in the past my thoughts brought me to the real miracle – that a new little human could enter the world just like that – one breath of air bringing forth a cry of life and that little person knew immediately what to do – put his little thumb in his mouth and become a man.  Of course that will take time but he has all the makings to be one.

A miracle indeed. 


An Ordinary Day

Yesterday was an ordinary day – for life in America.

We had a pleasant breakfast, lingered over coffee and conversation about pleasant things.

We drove an air conditioned car to church without fear of arrest because we might be suspect of going to some kind of political event.

We worshiped in song with christian music – again, without fear of being heard and suspected of whatever a perverted government needed for an excuse to exile us to Siberia or a concentration camp.

We visited with friends in the parking lot.  Not hiding from officials in uniform.

We met with other church friends at a nice restaurant, not worrying about the cost – calories, maybe, but not $.

We shopped for a new phone system without having to fill out permission forms.

While my husband installed the new system I rested on a nice soft sofa with a magazine that was not edited by a corrupt government.

Then we had fun playing cards to wile away the time left before we could enjoy a nice light supper.

Day done, we headed to the shower with hot and cold running water and snuggled up in bed, as is our custom to watch the evening news before turning on a movie to put us to sleep.

End of a very nice day – except – the news brought the world and reality into our bedroom.  Refugees wandering in the dessert mountains, fearing for their life.  Because they wanted to live according to their conscience, not as dictated by uniformed guards – and I remembered.  That little girl on the screen, looking so tired, her little feet hurting and her stomach crying for food was me – me, seventy years ago.

My heart is full of gratitude for all the comforts of life I now enjoy but not a day goes by that I don’t think about all the people who are still living the existence I once knew.

Read “The Chocolate Bar” by Agathe von Kampen 





When I tell you that I had a paralyzing fear of telephones you will probably laugh.  So let me tell you why.  

When we (my mother, brother and grandmother) immigrated to the United States in 1952 I had to learn “Life” at age 16.  Up to that time I had been a refugee – living on the side of the road with bombs falling, in bombed out train stations or while they were attacked during our seeking shelter or, after the war was over, in makeshift apartments.  Electricity, running water, heat and other comforts that are taken for granted here were a luxury grown-ups talked about.  We small children who were born during WWII considered them fairy tales.  During times when we were waiting in long lines to be processed I would observe secretaries talking on desk phones.  The result was always bad news for us.  “Application denied, go to the back of the line, come back tomorrow,  you are in the wrong place, etc.”

The telephone was the culprit, I decided.

Now we were in America and everybody had one of those black things in their house and when I heard the shrill ring I wanted to run and hide.  But, of course, just like all the terrifying feelings I had developed while living on the front lines, I had to stifle them for fear of being ridiculed or, at least laughed at – at sixteen that is the worst that can happen.  So I laughed and forced myself to hold the dreaded black talking enemy in my hand and tried my best to master the new language as well as the new device.

Of course, I eventually made friends with the phone – but the feelings of dread and fear were part of me and only were pushed under the surface – only to rear it’s ugly head when least expected.

Today we had to go phone shopping – I got used to the phone – now I have to deal with all the new electronic devices – ugh.  Will it ever end ? 





Did you miss my blog yesterday ?  Well, yesterday was a bad day for me.  Have you ever had a day when it should have been a good day – or at least, an ordinary one but it turned out to be just the opposite ?  I am sure you have.  That was yesterday for me.  I have had them before, of course but this time it had a different result.

I was cranky, obstinate, argumentative, depressed – and, just plain unpleasant.  Oh, and let’s not forget rebellious.  Like not writing my blog just because I didn’t want to do what I was supposed to.  Now, you might say “That’s no big deal”.  For me it is because those of you who know me know that self discipline is my middle name.  How did I get that way ? Through living my whole life in unhealthy (if not abusive) relationships.  If you read ”The Chocolate Bar” you will have picked up that I learned at a very early age that to be loved and accepted I had to be perfect.  “Jesus does not love you when you are not a good girl” I was told by my mother.  So, if the great Jesus couldn’t even love me how could I expect a mere human to do what Jesus couldn’t even do.  It grew from there on.  My father was the only one who seemed somehow able to put up with me, even when I didn’t live up to the standards set for me.  Alas, his was the ultimate rejection when I was eight years old – he left, never to be seen again.  Of course, as an adult I realize that he did not have a choice when he was drafted by the Nazi regime – children assume everything is their fault.  After that I had no advocate – when I was bad rejection was my punishment.

This practice continued with my first relationship (also known as marriage) at sixteen.  Everything I did or didn’t do resulted in abuse – criticism when I tried to seek comfort from my mother.  I learned that I was alone – depending only on myself, especially when after a few years I had two children depending on me besides.  Finally, after years of perfecting my behavior to the point where I was in total control of my emotions almost always (I cheated – at times I would go off by myself to hide my “badness”) I became tired – I mean, boneweary tired – TIRED).  I allowed myself to be irresponsible along with all the other negative traits I just mentioned because I was now completely by myself – no relationships – no dependent children – just me – I could be myself – whoever that was.  I was to find out that that self was a pretty nice person.  I could now keep company with a person I liked, hello Agathe.

Then I met a marvelous man and fell madly in love.  He did too.  But the old habits emerged.  “I want him to stay in love with me, so I have to be perfect” was the old mantra that reared it’s ugly head.  I did pretty much that and became fatigued once again – until all restraints broke yesterday and I became my real self again along with all the old fears of expecting retaliation with the result of rejection and loneliness to follow – I waited with baited breath at the end of the day.  Nothing – no punishment – no criticism – no yelling – no put downs.  Just quiet, which I interpreted as rejection.  I waited for the expected withdrawal to the far side of the bed.  Instead he enfolded me in his arms and whispered “I’m sorry you had such a trying day, honey”.

For the first time since my father left do I feel worthy of acceptance and love without having to earn it by being good.

Is this love ?


Pleasant surprise

More about my fall.  Having to rest when, I feel, I should be working is the ultimate punishment for me.  I enjoy being productive but, I guess, I need to learn to be content with just being at times since my age will require this more as I climb the senior ladder.  Maybe that’s why the universe/God allowed this accident to happen.

At any rate, the other day, since I can’t sew, read or do anything else that requires glasses which I don’t have now – and could not wear on my sore face if I did have them, I decided to sit on my sun porch and listen to my CDs.  Now you may picture a beautiful view to enjoy – not so.  I live in a wonderful senior park but the houses are very close together and the only view to be enjoyed is the carport next door.  In this room, in a comfortable chair is where I keep my CD player with my German CDs since no one else enjoys listening to foreign music I keep them isolated – for private moments.

I was just getting into my favorite Strauss waltzes (after all, I am German) when I noticed a bluebird fly in and perch on a straggly  branch of our only tree in the yard.  It may not have been an official “Bluebird” but it was a pretty little bird that was blue.  He sat there a while and then started dancing – yes, dancing.  He kept perfect time to the melody and sat still between the songs.  I am sure his movements were totally intentional.  

What a show – the unexpected events always seem to be more impressive on one’s  emotions.  It made my day – and I learned another good lesson – slowing down and listen to the music in life is as productive as going to work, cleaning house or knitting a sweater.

Who was that little bird anyway ?



Beauty from tragedy

I have been enjoying the spectacular sunsets lately.   When I see the intense colors I am reminded that many people are suffering because of the fires that are raging through southern Oregon during this present heat and the vast forests being destroyed along with so many homes.  Homes that were built with so much love and hope for the future.  During a time of loss and suffering it seems impossible to look forward to good times again.  And yet, that’s what happens.  I know from experience.  When I grew up during WWII, first in Russia and then in Germany I did not expect life ever to be different then suffering and death, for that was the only life I knew.  In fact, at a very tender age of six or so I wished many times to be dead.  When I saw the dead people they looked so still and peaceful, unlike the wounded who bled and cried.  Death seemed to be the only way out.    Now, I am happy that I didn’t die at that time.  I have had many years of peaceful life in America.  Still, in my personal life there seemed to be nothing but turmoil and fear until now, in my senior years I can enjoy all the wonderful things I longed for.

So here is my sympathy to all of you who are effected by the fires and other uncontrollable circumstances.  You will survive – and, life might even throw you a few unexpected surprises.

I am sending you my best wishes – have courage.

%d bloggers like this: