Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Wow, I made it! I am 60 years old

Well, I made it. I have reached the ripe age of 60. Young at heart and loving life to the full.

As the weather conditions don't allow for a garden party, we elected to have a shed party, placing the pop up party tent and caravan as extensions. I can use the caravan as kitchen and there is space for the younger children to sit at the table and draw ow whatever, should they wish to do so.

To have my children and grandchildren present I added their photos on the wall. Three flags grace the walls, my dutch and frisian roots and my Kiwi connection, the silver fern. It took some doing between showers but the scene is set, the preparations are done and I am all set to welcome our guests.

Gradually everyone dribbles in- and the atmosphere is lighthearted and amiable. Many of our friends, a mixture from all angles, have one thing in common- they all 'mix' well. The shed was filled with chatty voices telling their stories, mingling and mixing well- making it's own kind of music.

The smell of fresh coffee, the sweetness of the cakes and tempting nibbles also filled the air. Lights and the heater warmed the air. I was overwhelmed by the generously filled envelopes and gifts that kept pouring in. All present knew what my children had proposed, and in their way they helped by gifting spending money to be used for the holiday we were to undertake in October.

The party itself being held on Monday the 20th of May, being a public holiday- and allowing us all to raise our glasses at midnight- when the date showed 21 May on the clock and calendar both here and Down Under.

The food I had prepared went down extremely well, I had catered for them all in abundance still there was little left to clean up at the end of the night. The beer, wine and soft drinks flowed freely adding to the festive atmosphere.

The phone went exactly at midnight, and as I went to answer it fireworks exploded outside. I got one heck of a fright- and the whole company roared with laughter. Someone had sneakily let off fireworks literally BANG on midnight.

What a party, what fun, what love surrounded me- keeping me form wallowing in missing my children at this very moment more than ever.

"Never mind- October will be here soon enough. Start preparing mum", Toni said! And I aim to.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

In loving memory......

Dear  ' Merie's ma'

What a schock it was to get the message that you had left us so suddenly and without warning.
I know, you had led a long and good life, your hour had come, still we just weren't prepared- as one generally isn't, to part with someone they love.

How beautiful and precious are the memories I have of the times we shared. The dinners together including our pa. Trips on the boot in the Biesbosch, birthdays and other visits, we sure had a great time.

I promise to keep an eye on Merie for you. You can count on me for that. Oh how your children, grandchildren and great grandson will miss you.

Dear 'Merie's ma' you will be in my thoughts and your name will cross my lips in loving memory. Rest peacefully dearest 'mum' rest in peace.

Geesje van Buiten - Bakker. 19/09/1928 - 07/05/2013

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Ascension Thursday

Many say 'bolderdash' to Mother's day and that is their good right. Those that don't want to highlight that day probably don't want to celebrate birthdays either. Again, their good right. I am someone who upholds celebrations and days of remembrance. Not that I need one day in particular to remember someone or something, but to concentrate on that someone or event is done out of respect.

This past weekend was Ascension Thursday- a public holiday and long weekend for many, not for all!
I am also not sure whether people still know for what event this day is remembered.

For the past 15 years, friends have taken to opportunity to share this day, and due to my relationship with Leen I joined their ranks. It was a one day event - but Leen and I joined Harry and Hinriette at their camping the day prior and stayed one day after the event as well.

After the first couple of years in a small tent for 3 nights I asked Leen, why don't we come with the caravan? And so it transpired. From then on we all turned Ascension Thursday into a 5 day event in which the whole group of friends settles in at camping ground De Paardekreek in Kortgene.

Generally fine weather wise, with the past couple of years unsettled, this year abominable. Still we are grateful for small mercies and were able to BBQ twice during this long weekend in reasonable circumstances.

I am not aware of everyone's motivation or thought behind 'celebrating' this festive day in this way. I just know that to be together as friends, who stick by each other in good times and bad - can't be a bad thing. I hope we can share this time together in years to come.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Dearest sister

It was the 5th of the 5th 1950 the day you were born and became your parents', Jan en Johanna, eldest daughter. I still have a couple of photos of you and Peter, our older brother. Jou were as pretty as a picture with those blond curls and smiley face. It took 3 years till I was born when you became my older sister. I was the second daughter.

And then there were 3
We shared a room together. I had a small twin bed against the wall of our parents bedroom. You slept under the window. During the winter months you crept into bed beside me due to the ice flowers on the window- it was so cold then without central heating. I remember times when you wanted to test whether or not I was asleep. You would pinch my nose closed till I gasped for air. Just a childhood prank. Quite natural behaviour for siblings.

As my older sister, it was often your responsibility to watch out for me. Especially seeing we went to school by train and had to walk a distance from the railway station. We had an ok relationship - you were my sister, and that was that. No nonsense. We behaved like the average family with 4 children, in fun, friendship, teasing and irritating each other as we grew up and found our way in life as children do.
Family pose

I remember how proud you were when I ' grew up and became a woman'. I also remember you opening your home to mum, baby brother and me when we returned to New Zealand. You were about to give birth to your first born. Very generous.

Together we started our families. It was always a bubbly busy time when we visited our parents together.

We shared many experiences in life. Unfortunately our relationship stranded many years ago. It continues to cause me grief and I miss having a sister. I miss sharing chit chats about our grandchildren, how I would have loved sharing those with you. I would have loved to meet your husband and visited you at your home. I would so have loved to.......

A grandchildren's
visit to oma and opa's place
What cannot be altered, and I am glad it can't be, is that we ARE sisters.

Dearest sister, I love you. Today is your birthday and I think back on our times together. Who knows what the future holds for us. I live in that hope!

All my love,
Your only sister

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

In memory of my mum

Johanna Zwaga 1-05-1923
I am trying to remember my very first conscious memory I have of my mum. Sure I realise she was always THERE, but when do those memories become fact. When is the first real vivid live memory. I remember many events and happenings - and am now trying hard to be more specific.

Memories are popping up like:
- the carpet being beaten outside, with dust clouds filling the air
- lapping my milk off a saucer. I had seen a kitten do that with it's small pink tongue. I wanted to try that too.
- walking to the greengrocer on the way to kindergarten. I was mesmerized by the potato scraping machine. Round and round those potatoes went in a centrifuge type machine.
- biking to the woods at the end of our street
- getting an ice-cream at Jamin and a visit to my dad at his post by the railways
- french toast and bread pudding. Using up bread that had aged to beyond sandwich status.
- being weary after a hard day keeping 4 children and a household afloat.

The more I make the effort the easier te memories appear. No I am under no misconception that it was always easy of happy families. There will have been te necessary squables, re-occuring requests to do some chore or another, plasters on bleeding knees, a pile of washing on the bathroom floor.

My dad worked shifts as he worked for the railway. I am sure mum filled the role of mum and dad on many occasions in his absence. Especially in moments when we struggled with childhood ailments like measles, chickenpox and mumps.

For years I was privileged to have a mum who also worked hard at being a good and loving oma. That she sometimes struggled or disagreed with the changes in behaviour in society and ways of doing things was understandable. I tried to be a listening ear and give her somewhere to air her views. Times were a changing and she didn't always think they changed for the better.

And, when she, dad and Paul came to stay, the first thing she packed into the boot of the car was her sewing machine.

I remember fondly all the festive moments we shared. The birthdays, anniversaries, Christmasses and New Years with me and my children. The ' spoil you'  breakfasts Toni organised unexpectedly once she was independent. Reece taking over some of the heavier garden tasks for dad when it became too much for him. Steve loving her chocolate drinks and playing Rummikup with her. When we ' Three Muskateers"  gave their home a huge clean up - from roof to lawn-  when they were absent,  just to relieve them of the heavy tasks and show we cared.

I think back to my KeriKeri visits with Steve whilst in New Zealand and also with Leen (in 2005). How beautiful her surroundings were.

I think about her struggle and emotional time when she left the Netherlands and all those she loved when she and dad moved to New Zealand to start a new life. I think about how sadness at having to part with her husband after a marriage of 53 and 1/2 years. I think about her pride and joys with her grand and great grandchildren.

Birth notice Johanna Zwaga.
I think about motherhood.

Simply, I think about my mum.

Everyday, but today in a more special way, her 90th birthdate!