Maria and Georg were so happy to have another baby around the house. Even the youngest children helped with Rosemary and Maria was glad that Marta and Gretl were both over their jealousness. Everyone was enjoying another school year and Lies, was entering her senior year and was starting to think about colleges. Maria couldn't believe how fast time was flying ans how well her family was doing In America and were already scheduled for another summer of touring and concerts.

Georg had a new navy intern that fall named Richard he was deaf but could read lips and speak pretty well And he was starting to flirt with Liesl a little and Maria and Georg hoped they could become good friends. One night in September Georg invited Richard to have dinner with their family. He was such a sweet man and even Bette rhe was Catholic so Maria has no doubt that Georg wouldn't approve of hi. And he already liked him so much better than that jerk Rolf Liesl was sointo almost two years ago. He came over that Friday night for dinner. Maria even tried to learn a little sign for him so when he arrived she awkwardly and slowly fingerspelled and sighed

"hi I'm Maria it's good to meet you?"

Then he spoke almost perfectly his voice was very soft and had a little squeak to it

"Call me Rick ma'am and I don't know much sign language I'm learning it myself in school right now."

"Didn't you say you were deaf? I thought you would have grown up using sign language."

"My family is hearing and wanted me to speak but I love learning to sign."

Maria smiled and led him into the living room where everyone else was sitting around. Everyone liked Rick instantly and Gretl and Marta were a little confused at why he didn't respond to them when they talked to him and Maria gently explained that he was deaf meaning he couldn't hear and needed to look at their lips when speaking to him.

Eveyeone enjoyed a quiet evening and got to know Rick he went to RIG as an engineering major and was interning in the navy and he also had 4 other siblings and a deaf sister Cheryl who went to RIT as well. He and Liesl talked a lot all through the meal and even went for a walk together after dinner. Maria smiled at the two as she was cleaning f up the dinner dishes when Georg walked in and noticed Maria looking at rick and Liesl outside.

"Seems like they hit it off pretty fast don't you think?"

Georg snuck up behind his wife and put his arms around her.

"Hmmm they sure are they seem like they would become good friends but Liesl is still young and I don't want her to fall in love so quickly and have her heart broken like she did with Rolf. Ans plus I'd like her to focus on her education and getting into a good college."

Georg groaned at the sound of Liesl's old love interest but he remembered that was nearly two years ago and Liesl was almost an adult and she was much more mature now then she was when she was 16.

"You are right my Maria I would like it very much if she focused on her studies as well but we have to remember she is almost an adult and no longer a child so we should let her make her own choices."

"You're right Georg she is becoming an adult so fast and I missed half her childhood can't believe she is almost 18 but I would still like to talk to her about things."

Georg nodded in agreement

"We will shall talk to her tonight ok?"

Georg kissed his wife and at that moment Rick and Liesl asked through the door laughing about something.

Georg greeted Liesl and his guest with a smile

"Enjoy your walk?"

"Yes we did father thank you for having Rick join us for dinner. How would you say thank you in sign language?"

Rick then taught the three of them the sign for thank you

"Thank you"

Everyone copied his sign

"Well I must be going it was wonderful meeting you all especially you Liesl and see you tomorrow captain!"

Rick shook everyone's hands and gave Liesl a quick hug in which she gave a huge grin to. Then Maria ans Georg thought it was the perfect time to have a little talk with Liesl. First Maria out the baby down to bed then went into the sitting room where Georg and Liesl were waiting. As soon as Maria sat down next to her daughter she started off with

"So darling how do you like Rick?"

"He is a very nice man I like him a lot. I think we would make good friends!"

Georg nodded in agreement

"He sure is a very nice young man I like him very much as well. So selling, Mother and I would like to have a talk with you."

Liesl got a worried look at that comment

"Mother, father don't you like him? He's not Rolf at all!"

Maria put a loving arm around her oldest disguster

"We know darling he is so much better than Rolf was yes we agree but we know now that you are becoming an adult and you are a very r sponsibke young woman and you are much more mature and sophisticated than you were when you were 16 but we just want to make sure you take things slow,y and dint fall in love as quickly and of course focus on your education and completing school and finding a good college."

Liesl then knew what her parents were coming at.

"I do agree with you very much I want to take things slow with him and I want to focus on finishing school and he agreed as well that I should focus on school and getting into college and he promised we would take things slowly."

Georg and Maria both smiled at this and Georg put a loving arm around Liesl

"I am so proud of the young woman you are becoming my dearest Liesl so proud."

Liesl hugged both her parents back

"Thank you Mother and Father I always try my best to make the two of you proud I would like to learn more sign language it looks very fun to learn!"

Georg and Maria were both so happy that Liesl was agreeing to take things slowly and she wasn't crazy in love or anything and she had her priorities straight.

The next day Maria took Liesl to the library to borrow a few books on sign language. She was instantly fascinated and loved learning it. When Gretl saw her oldest sister practicing sign language she got curious and asked wha she was doing.

"Liesl what are you doing with your hands?"

"Oh it's sign language honey."

When Gretl looked even more confused Liesl explainer gently to her youngest sister.

"Do you remember when Rick came over for dinner a few nights ago?"

"Yeah I really liked him he's nice and fun but why didn't he answer me when I talked to him? I was talking very loud"

"Well that is because he's deaf he can't hear like we can so he needs to look at your lips when we speak to him and also sign language is a way of talking with your hands so he can read your hands and not your mouth."

"Oh so like talking with your hands?"

"Yes darling it's talking with your hands."

"Wow I want to learn to talk with my hands!"

So then Liesl showed Gretl how to fingerspell the alphabet and she taught her that each letter had its own sign and you could spell out words. Liesl even learned that you could sign letters, food and many other everyday objects and feelings. She thought it was easy and a lot of fun to learn and practiced every day. Maria and Georg were happy to see Liesl making such an effort to communicate with her friend and Gretl loved "talking with her hands".

Rick came over for dinner a few weeks later and Liesl couldn't wait to show him the signs she learned. As soon as he walked in Gretl ran up to him and started talking a mike a minute in which he probably couldn't understand at all.

"I learned to talk to my hands!"

Maria then gently corrected Gretl

"It's talk with your hands darling you call it sign language."

"Oh ok."

She then attempted to fingerspell her name and she got most of the letters right. Rick instantly smiled at that and thought it was so cute that they were Kearny g to sign for him. Liesl then walked in and signed as much as she learned from her book.

"Hi I'm learning to sign!

"Thank you"

"You're welcome"

They signed thta short conversation together and everyone smiled. Everyone loved learning to sign and all had so much fun. That night was like the last time everyone talked signed and laughed. They all had a wonderful time. Maria was glad that Liesl was still taking things slowly with Rick and was very proud of her.

The rest of the year went by and Liesl decided to go to RIT to become an interpreter and she continued to keep in contact with Rick and they stuck to only keeping it as talking on the phone. Georg could not believe his darling little Liesl would be leaving him in the fall but he was so proud of his disguster and how ans how hard she has been working and studying this past year. Georg was so proud of all of his children and couldn't wait to see what the next few years had to bring for him and his family.