Refresh your driving skills and learn about new car technology with the AARP Driver Safety page.
by Agathe von Trapp, AARP Bulletin, October 28, 2010
One day Papa asked me into his study. He sat down on the sofa, and I sat in a chair next to him. He asked, "Do you think I should marry Gustl? You know, she's quite pretty." I remember the exact words of my answer to Papa: "I think if it is the will of God, then you should marry her." At the age of fourteen this was not my usual way of thinking, but the words just flowed out.
On Nov. 27, 1927, Papa married Gustl in the Church of the Nonnberg Abbey. Now Papa had a second wife, and we seven had a second mother. Immediately after the wedding, the question arose of how we should address her as our new mother. Gustl sensed this delicate question had to be settled. She said to us, "Why don't you call me 'Mother'? That distinguishes me from your real mother, and at the same time, it is appropriate because I am now your mother."
We did not realize then that we would be cemented together with this new mother for the next 29 years in a musical adventure that would save us from the terrifying upheaval of World War II and would take us across the ocean to a new continent, which was to become our new home: America.
Gustl was 22 years of age and Papa was 47 when she married into our family. She was only six years older than Rupert, the oldest son, and eight years older than I. She was young and full of energy. She perceived our well-regulated daily routine as boring and lifeless and wanted to bring fun and more pleasant activities into our lives. During the years that followed the wedding, our new mother made many changes in our family. She was fond of volleyball, so we played with her for hours. I hated volleyball! She loved mountain climbing, so the whole family went mountain climbing in the summer and during the school year.
These were only the first changes introduced by our new mother. Before us lay dramatic changes that neither she, nor Papa, nor any of us could foresee.
From the book Memories Before and After The Sound Of Music: An Autobiography by Agathe von Trapp. Copyright © 2010 by Agathe von Trapp. Reprinted by permission of Harper Paperbacks, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Read an interview with Agathe von Trapp.
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Members save 15% all day, every day at participating locations.
Members save 15% on train tickets.
Members save 15% on in-store purchases of frozen yogurt, treats and apparel.
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at