Teresa as glider passenger

At the time I met Teresa I was still an active glider pilot. One day, probably shortly after we got married, I invited her to come with me to the airfield and accompany me on a trip in a glider. It has been her first experience of this kind. We took off using winch launch and Teresa sat behind me. Since I knew that passengers in gliders frequently get sick, I gave her a chewing gum against travel sickness prior to takeoff and hoped she would cope her first flight with me without problems. However, a few minutes after takeoff, while I was busy with gaining altitude, I asked her how she felt but did not get any answer. Quite astonished, I turned around and realized that she seemed to have fainted and did not show any sign of life. Seized with panic, I pulled the brake flaps, and hurried back to the airfield as quickly as possible in order to land. Prior to my landing, I had notified the others by radio that there is an emergency. As fast as we could, we pulled Teresa out of the plane and placed her under the wing in order for her to rest in the shadow. A young medical student came and provided first aid, so Teresa fortunately regained consciousness and eventually recovered soon.

She said that shortly after takeoff she felt paralysed and was neither able to move nor to talk, although she was able to hear. The active substance in the chewing gum seemed to have triggered an allergic reaction leading to these extremely disturbing symptoms. Later in her life it became obvious she also was allergic to aspirin. Henceforth I gladly refrained from taking her along in a glider after having made this dramatic experience.

At that time I was not a member of the Church yet. The young medical student who helped Teresa so willingly and quickly was killed in a tragic glider accident a couple of weeks later. This filled me with deep grief, and while I was attending the funeral service many thoughts came to my mind. Today I am convinced that this experience was crucial to me for further investigating the gospel when I got the chance and eventually to get baptized in July 1988.

Teresa’s health was frail and vulnerable. Sad to say, this was still to become obvious on other occasions.

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