A Thank You to Everyone

"...making others happy makes us happy ...we are loved human beings"
— Shawn Hooey

With the swiftness of a galloping horse, racing the speedway, this new year is already flying by. As I get older, time is even more in a hurry. Today, the ninth of Jan. 2017 has voided already eight of its three hundred and sixty five days. "En wij vliegen daarhenen," and we fly thereto, my father would say, probably quoting the bible, but whereto do we fly? And why be in such a hurry to get there?

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Living in a home like I am, I see enough of where my friends wind up after a fast and exciting ride in an ambulance with lights ablaze and sirens screaming.

Perhaps the discomfort of rheumatic arthritis plaguing me the last few weeks preventing me to sleep or type, made me feel powerless to enjoy the 'freshness of the new.'

I feel better now, after straining my potholed brain for something pleasant and uplifting to think about, and it did not take me long.

My daughter Janice drove me for my appointment with the doctor, and did most of the conversion with him as well, asking intelligent questions, which I was not able to do as eloquently as she did, besides, I would have forgotten the questions I was going to ask him anyways. What a pleasure to have someone with a business brain in my corner.

On the advice of Janice I received permission from the doctor to use a heavier dose of prednisone, which makes that I am able to sleep now, and type with my one finger as well. A word of thanks to the doctor. And to Janice.

Instead of taking me straight home, my daughter drove me around familiar and unfamiliar places in Abbotsford; she even drove me right over the mountain. The valley was just as breathtaking beautiful as I remembered it. Thanks again, Janice.

A few days before this she and her husband Erwin took me along to the funeral of Gerry van Rijk with whom I worked on and off twenty years ago. He was one of my best friends. He died of Alzheimer at Menno Place, where I live also, but my home is in one of the an 'independent living' buildings called The Pavilion, while Gerry lived at the residential care unit of Menno Home. Gerry's wife was called Anne just like my wife Anne, both were born on April 20. They were more than friends, as Anne van Rijk said : "We are just like sisters." She passed away shortly after my Anne, who was only 72 when she died.

Gerry's family welcomed me warmly. For that I too am thankful, and for their friendship. Have a good one Gerry. Or, 'until we meet again.'

Several good friends in Delta, Abbotsford, Vancouver Island and Holland have died last year but I escaped thus far, which makes for a curious feeling - sad for the loss and thankful for being bypassed. I made many friends at Menno Place, young and old, and made some very dear friends as well, one of whom encouraged me when I was ready to threw the computer through the window, she is mainly responsible for me keeping the course in writing and for that I am her genuinely thankful.

On the way to my unit I meet two cooks coming in for their shift, one is short, the other tall, both lively and lovely. They are good cooks making the saying true: "Mennonite girls can cook!' They stride with the same gait, which is fast and long but not hasty or over done, controlled fast would better describe it, I like to call it the Menno walk. I don't think they are of the Mennonite faith, even so, everybody receives the same respect, and a warm and friendly 'thank you.'

When I open the door to my room a pleasant surprise awaits me - standing on my desk I find a cup of Tim Hortons coffee and a special cup of oatmeal porridge, with fresh berries on top, which has been my breakfast fare for years. There is no name of a giver though, who is the generous giver?

My neighbor Herman Veeneman turns out to be my well doer, but his story gets even better. The real giver is one of several young women, originally from India, working for Tim Hortons who both Herman and I like. It is sure comforting to know that I'm not forgotten there either. A note of thanks to be delivered by Herman V. is on the way.

In a prior story, which I consider one of my best, I wrote about the tradition in our church of singing Ere Zij God at Christmas morning and since I don't go to church anymore because I gave away my beautiful red KIA Sportage, (which happened not to be red,) the one thing I would really miss, was singing that song, since I had sung it for more than eighty times among several congregations.

Well, one of our activities was decorating cookies, which we were allowed to eat as well. There were only about a dozen of us 'kliederen' messing with the decoration, when the recreational instructor, who stands six feet - two inches tall, (1.85?) in stocking feet, rounded up a dozen and a half female students of the local University, who were volunteering at Menno Place, to join us. They were interested in stories about our youth in the Netherlands, when one of them asked me if I knew a dutch Christmas song and would I sing it for them? A light went up in my mind and I said if Maaike would sing it with me I would.

Maaike Kooistra was game and together we sang that old Christmas song Ere Zij God a Capella.

"Now we were evangelizing too yet," said Maaike, a widow who recently joined us at Menno place and was born in Berlicum, Beltsum, as we called it, which is only a stone's throw away from Hijum were I was born! In that way I was ahead of the church because it was a few weeks before the 25th of December when this happened. And so the tradition I thought was in jeopardy, with a little kink continued. Several thank you's here.

I am proud that this year I called my brothers Anne and Frank in Barneveld and Ede before the feast days and also John in Delta and Durk in Williams Lake. I think it is a first of several years because I am forgetful in the second degree. I did apply for for a new head but so far no luck. I give myself a pat on the back.

The greatest surprise and joy to me was ha ha! Ester, from Drachten? Anyways from Fryslân. She burned my computer out with more than forty comments after I posted a photo of my Pake and Beppe from the heather-fields under Donkerbroek. Your great-Beppe Aukje would have been proud of you, Ester.

Many years ago in the very beginning of the 1950's she asked your pake Bertus' brother Bernardus, to make a family register, 'to keep the family together,' as she put it, which Bernardus did, but you shook the sleeping great-great-grandchildren of her up with your additional info and enthusiasm!

Thank you Ester, and everybody joining what pake and beppe began when they got married in 1897 - the SMID FAMILY as we know it. Thank you all for showing so much interest! Happy 2017! It surprises me that all of you in our 'old country' are so good in the English language.

Note 1: The three sons of my uncle Bernardus, (brother of your Pake, Ester,) Fokke, Auke, and Jan are also very interested in the Smid generations. One of them had us related with it "Koninklijk Huis,'' you could get a lot more information from them. Fokke has sadly shortly ago passed away, but one of the others, Jan, lives in Delfzijl I understand, he is the twin brother of Auke.

Note 2: I think they will hold another 'neven en nichten' day nephews and nieces day this summer, according to my brother Anne from Barneveld. Might be good to look into this. They are very nice people!!!

And for now we have come to THE END as my daughter Jacki would say at the end of her stories, when she was in grade school. Love you!