Monday, 30 July 2012

Sharing memories

Well , who would have thought I would be away this long? Not that I haven't been writing, just not here in my diary of happenings and experiences.

Leen and I went away for a few days. We needed the break and the weather looked promising. A few days away in the MG, roofless through the countryside all the way to Koblenz, Germany. There we met up with some friends and spent some time with them before journeying on home and to oom Teun's farewell.

I was to speak on behalf of the Fijnekam side of the family. But also because I wanted to pay tribute to this lovely man. And speak I did. I had prepared the not too long a talk whilst away. Mailed it and it was received warmly on the day.....

It was a lovely summer's day. There were many local people ( Alblasserdam is a small township and he had lived there his whole life). Those not present were on holiday, some unaware their uncle, friend or neighbour had died whilst they were away. It is summer after all.

How respectfully and well did the boys speak of their father. They honoured him gently, appropriately and not too overdone. Their dad wouldn't have liked that. How beautiful was the poem daughter Hennie wrote about her dad and who he was for her. You could call it a psalm-. There were no prayers said, yet the whole cervice was one of prayer. Of gratitude for the man he had been, for thankfulness that he was ' at peace'.  There was music - a God given gift to those who used it to give pleasure to those who could appreciate listening. Songs of beauty, of splendour.

The children guided their mother through this ritual of farewell with compassion, care, and thoughfulness. It was a serene, touching and fitting farewell.

Oom Teun has met his Maker, and we have waved him on, letting go.

Now all must pick up the pieces and carry on without him present but forever in our hearts.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Rest in Peace oom Teun

This is the third morning in a row I am enjoying the sunshine om my arms sitting typing away on my computer. How promising is that? Summer hasn't forgotten us after all.

Last Thursday afternoon we went to visit Leen's oom Teun. We had heard that all wasn't well with him - an octogenrian who had led a full life and in the past couple of years had paid the price of aging with health issues. We had been on occasional visits with months in between. Last family day he wasn't able to be present as his condition had deteriorated that much he was house bound. I missed his presence on that day as he was a cheery man, not talkative but a happy presence where ever he showed himself.

R.I.P oom Teun
After a phone call from tante Bertha to say we were welcome that afternoon, we called in. As we expected it was to be a final visit, a farewell- when we would leave the house we realised we wouldn't see oom again.

The visit went really well. Oom had been 'moved'  into a bedroom on his own. A 24hour nurse was present and the daughter of the house, Leen's cousin had also arrived. After some updated chitchat we went to see uncle Teun. How wonderful to have had this moment - how awesome to have shared minutes of his final hours... we weren't to know he would go so soon!

Precious moments. Caring moments.

As we drove home - sort of sad, sort of resigned I said to Leen I wanted to pray for oom Teun. I prayed aloud " Lord take him home, release him from his agony." This prayer was on my lips and in my heart for the next couple of days. Sons Jan en Gert with their wives went to see him, grandchildren called in.... all realising that their father, father in law and opa wouldn't be with them much longer.

The 24 hour nurse wasn't needed long term. Oom Teun died peacefully Sunday morning. At home like he wanted. Amongst those he loved.

Sunday, 22 July 2012


Quite a number of years ago, maybe 20-25 I read this quote. Was so taken by it I copied it onto a piece of paper. This morning I found it - tucked away in the back of my bible.

The sun is out, the streets are still quiet, it is Sunday morning and as in so many parts of the world ( not all I know) the world gently awakes. A day of rest - a day to look back on the events of the week. Satisfied or not, there is no changing the results - only the future.

It is all here in this wee piece of reflection from Charles R Swindoll.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Noah's Arc

It is Saturday, a quiet and peaceful morning with little or no traffic passing by. Not that we have loads of traffic humming by- but the day to day to-ing and fro-ing has yet to begin.

It is also almost dry. Save a wee shower when I first got up at 6:45. I am hopeful there won't be anymore than that wee shower today! What have we had to contend with the past weeks. Rain, rain rain! Weird too really. Recently the newest attraction opened in Dordrecht - city across the waters.

Noah's Arc Yes, we have an Arc in the harbour. And going by the measurements maybe large enough to fit a small community like ours into. I don't mean to be flippend - honestly. I do admire the man's perserverance, almost audacity you could say, his vision and guts to do what he did. And not on a whim but total conviction that this is what he HAD to do. He prays, asks, listens and does what he thinks he is called to do. I can truly admire that in a person. 

Actually I am envious. And that's not a good thing to be. What I should feel is inspired- more determined and focussed in, on and with the things I am doing. Checking all the time - is this where I should be, is this what I should be doing?

Anyway, my thinking isn't all doom and gloom. On the contrary. Recently I have been more focussed and trying to give shape to the routines and things that occupy me. I have adjusted my antennae and am listening more accurately to the signals I am receiving. 

Life is one, big learning journey. And the scenery is enjoyable. I am going to soldier on and do my darndest to get it as right as I can. 

As Micah said: Live justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God! Just LOVE that verse.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

A day in which to ponder.


As I am typing the sun is on my arms and face warming me up in a most gentle way. No, not a clear blue sky, but a typical dutch one, with awesomely shaped and coloured clouds puffing in the wind.
Like these ones in the photo. Typically dutch. What is that I wonder?

I returned home 12 years ago
(1-7-2000) and felt 'at home'  straight away. Yet I had been away for 30 odd years. Going to the market, taking the train, late to bed, shopping almost daily instead of fortnightly - the fridges here are smaller and freezers are generally non existent due to the space needed to house these items, so no way can one 'stock up' for longer periods. Fresh produce and bread daily isn't such a bad thing. You can decide what you want to eat on the day. Anyway, I digress, which by the way, is quite permissible when one is pondering!

I hadn't ever driven a car in the Netherlands. Did have a scooter years ago, but that's different. I was encouraged by my cousin René to get behind the wheel not long after I arrived.. and hey presto! Just was funny getting in on the wrong/right side of the car.

I did have to re-do my practical for my license. Unfair when you think about it. Drove almost 30 years - not a scratch, and if I had had an Australian driver's license it would have been accepted without an exam. Anyway, got al that sorted and drive with much pleasure like I did in New Zealand. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Zeeland, Fryslân ( Friesland) Paris, France, Belgium.......

Shortly after my return I had the privilege of 'hosting' friends here for a couple of days. We made the traditional tourist trip to Amsterdam ( YAWN!) by train. Don't get me wrong. Amsterdam is lovely- just there is so much MORE to Amsterdam than the red light district and the canal boats. Still we did have a great day there!

The next day we went to Fryslân/Friesland by car. The landscape is so contradictory to the New Zealand landscape. Once we passed the halfway mark I sighed and said " oh isn't this lovely. What do you think of that?" and the one answer I hadn't counted on was the one I got. " It is so FLAT! Nothing to see." Oh me oh my. Glad of the differences in people and their experiences. I don't see ' nothing' at all. It is the drive that gives me my most wonderful ' at home' feeling I can imagine.

There is a snag, not to be taken too lightly either however, that will always remain a stab in my heart - the distance to travel before I can be with my children and grandchildren. Not to mention the loving friends I made and still have in Aotearoa. Whilst I enjoy their smiley bubbly faces on SKYPE, and love catching up with my children via any means available today - it causes an ache every day!

Anyway, all I wanted to say really is, this is home. I am home and LOVE it. Yes, the weather isn't exactly anything to write home about. Especially this dismal summer so far. But then, the summer in New Zealand wasn't all it cracked up tobe either. And Down Under is all Down Under. Here we spread out to south of France, Spain, Greece, Portugal. Our friendly European neighbours DO have sunny warm weather, different food, different cultures, different scenery. It is where you feel ' at home' that counts.

The place where I can be me. I loved my years in New Zealand. Truly I did. It gave me my 3 wonderful children, the cultural experiences not found elsewhere, the richness of friendships I still hold dear. My life, adventuresome though it has been to date, I wouldn't swap with anyone.

So now, I am still feeling the warm sun on my arms, I am still seeing the blueish grey clouds speed past and I am thankful.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

New horizons

I just looked out of my window and lo and behold- a sight not seen for some time. BLUE sky! It is tragic really that I allow the weather to occasionally influence my day. Not to the point I get shirty about it, but it does somehow manage to infiltrate into my daily doings from time to time.

It is Tuesday. I am trying to get my head around the new routine I have found myself to be in. Now that I have totally finished with the NEW ADVENTURE ( sadly enough) I am trying to set my goals on other activities and also shape my future as to where to from here? and where is my income going to come from next?

Let me explain: A year ago friends from New Zealand popped in for a visit. It was awesome. We nattered, caught up and shared some great times together. During this time I explained I wanted to leave teaching. Not straight away, but was searching for ' something'  challenging and new. This is how I became involved with a new project and a possibility to earn my income doing something I enjoyed and be in charge of my own destiny. This was May 2011. In October I took up the challenge and proceeded to do all the things one must to to become self employed, gather information, do research and keep in constant contact with the person I intended to do doing business with. After 6 months of giving it my all- disappointment awaited me.

Not all things work out how one sets out to do. And this was one of those moments and unrealised dreams. So shattering, disillusioning. Still, after a wee while if wallowing in self pity and being hugely angry and sad, I regrouped and picked up my life once again.

I feel like I am in a candy store. So much choice, so many talents, so many directions. I love photography, writing and cooking to mention a few talents I do recognise that I already have and could develop further. I am also not adverse to cleaning, checkouts or other work.

It is really hard ( for me just now) to get a true picture of what and how. And let's face it - the negativity that surrounds the world as far as the economy is concerned doesn't help either. Doom and gloom scenarios are everywhere. I wish people wouldn't let themselves be so influenced by it. If you are a hard worker, know how to live within your budget and dare to LIVE, then all will be well with the world. Share with others, don't hog your time and talent for yourself. We are in this world together - so then... share the load!

Today I am making lists, summing up my possibilities and trying to clear my head. I have been doing a lot of thinking about what 'suits' me as a person. I am open to anything ( within reason) and especially something that helps make a difference.

So, before the week is out I aim to have a clear picture and definite goal.

Family re-union or family feud?

An unexpected happy event - clouded by an  unforgiving heart.

How stoked I was yesterday to receive a request via Facebook to join a family group ( on mum's side) set up a cousin. Photos, history, anecdotes- awesome. I thought a chance for me to assemble more info for the kids and their heritage. So I accepted the invite and checked out how many other members there were and found 28 already signed in. Looking at the photo gallery I thought it would be nice - for those who aren't in the possession of the family group photo I have of my grandparents with all but one member- to place it. Lo and behold, a cousin mentioned that it had already been placed by another family member. I looked and looked and couldn't find it. Then a small twinkling light began to dawn - . My suspicious were confirmed when I checked the profile photos against the number participants. I have 27 photos and 28 members listed.  I have been blocked by a family member and therefor I cannot see the contributions made by that person. My heritage, my photos are not accessible for me because I have been blocked. What is most hurtful about that is that I am blocked by someone in my own family  - one way or another I will be able to have access to the photos, but that I am BLOCKED  out- disowned! The hurts like no other pain I have yet felt.

I am SHATTERED. Hurt to the very core of my being! Why am I surprised? But I am. I didn't know some-one, especially blood,  so filled with hate that this is their reaction. I cannot imagine the size and force of this emotion AT ALL!-

What to do? I made contact with the instigator of the page and explained the problem - even offered to leave the family group! so as not to cause upheavals. I was concerned and felt uncomfortable. I don't want to be the reason that personal vendettas clouded this wonderful initiative. I could only think of one person who would have done this- and after checking I found my suspicions were correct.

Then, before I went to bed, having thought everything through, I mailed a request to have the block lifted. I mean to say, how bad could that be? I do not want others to intervene or even change their view of either party. I don't want this to smudge what was an honest - caring and thoughtful exercise into a family feud online. Shaking from head to toe I pushed 'send'.

That was last night. Upon awakening I lifted the ipad cover with trembling hands - would there have been a response or reaction.

I went on the FB family page. BANG- SLAP- THUMP! Nothing had changed. I want to scream, to cry,  I feel such an incredible sadness coming over me. What horrendous crime have I committed to be treated this way? I know that our relationship stranded many years ago in 1988. Since then I have done almost everything known to man to set this right. But to no avail. It is beyond me to break down this wall.

I have prayed about it, cried buckets over it, asked advice on it, left it alone ( or tried to) so it didn't get me down. What to do??? Oh what to do?? Lord tell me - WHAT TO DO??  Oh Lord - tell me what I have to do!!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Kidney trouble

Yes well, what can I say...I have been 'away' from my blog for some time. Welcome back would be an appropriate statement right now.

It all started when we went away for our annual 'friends weekend'.

We have been doing this for a number of years now starting in 2007. Each year a couple are responsible for selecting the location and organising the daily activities. This event being held the last weekend of June every year. These have been wonderful weekends I must say. And not surprisingly, we all enjoy this rather luxurious 'time out' at the start of the summer season.

We have started on the 'second round' now when Leen and I organised a weekend away in Aldstjerk/Oudkerk in Fryslân.

We stayed in Hotel de Klinze , a stately 'manor' of some status. Indoor pool, sauna, spa and Turkish steam bath. Leen and I had 'discovered' this location a few years ago ( just after Mitchell died) and have visited again last year between Christmas and New Year. The food was lovely, the location tiptop and the service of the staff second to none.

As I started to say, that's when I stopped writing! Although there was internet, the service was so slow I couldn't 'load' my evening's contribution. It just 'hung on in there' and wouldn't add to the page. So frustrating. I made a few notes to add after our return home - and it never happened.

Our last day we spent going on a short ferry ride across to the island Schiermonnikoog. Lovely place. Small but green and touristy. As we prepared to leave for home I received a phone call to say my father in law was being taken to hospital due to kidney problems.

A mad dash home - went straight to pa's place, skipping dinner, where we found him home but extremely unwell. Arrangements were made to visit the doctor the next morning and after he (re)assured us he would ring if anything happened we went home to sleep ( NOT!)

I whisked pa off to the doctor the next day and before you could say ' kidney failure' he was being admitted to hospital. Both pa's kidneys had for some unknown reason decided to stop working, but also his bladder was totally EMPTY! Had no content what so ever.

After a barrage of tests and a sad pa I had to leave him in hospital,where he subsequently stayed a whole week. Poor pa. He so wanted to be at home, he was so unsure of everything and so nervous. After a few days the kidneys started working again. Pa received gallons of fluids and had a catheter in so that all in- and outgoing fluids could be monitored and measured.

All this led to the demise of my writing. I too was concerned, hectic days followed with to-ing and fro-ing to hospital, pa's house and other activities. At night I couldn't concentrate and lounged on the couch becoming quite a potato.

It has taught me quite a lot about the nucleus of this family. I have learned a lot (more) about myself. It also woke Leen and Arie up to the reality of pa's fragility and humaness. Although I remained calm throughout the whole process my nervousness being more from 'within' than outwardly showing, I too found myself closer to pa than ever before. I kept having flashbacks to my dad and his last months. I re-visited those intensely lonesome moments I experienced at that time. Yet, it didn't make me depressed or anything, just thankful that I knew I had done my ALL for dad in those weeks and I aim to be there for pa with as much devotion and caring as I had been for dad.

Being realistic, pa hasn't got eternal life. One day we will have to farewell  him ( all things being equal that he goes before one of us). I think I am slowly preparing myself for that day, making the most of the time we have left with him.

So, I am back - and hopefully there won't be too many 'breaks' like this one. I also realise now it might have been an impossible task to think I could enter a contribution EVERY DAY for a year without interruption.