Part of getting old is that I'm getting more and more deaf, while I'm stubborn enough not to want the 'aid' of a six-thousand dollar hearing-aid. Why? I just told you why, I am stubborn.
I promised to remember several more people who have been special to me. Some personal shortcomings made that it did not happen as fast as it should have, I blame on it on old age.
Old age makes you forget things, it was getting to the point that I forgot to take my medicines, worrying the doctor enough to order assistance from the Health Services.
Surprisingly, it improved my life considerable, not only do I get visits of nice young women every morning and evening to check that I swallow my pills, but since that takes so little time they bathe me as well.
The only women who ever witnessed me naked thus-far were my mother and my wife, so I hesitated to undress in front of this strange lady who was very cute, however she was very nice and equally professional and when she was through with me I felt like a young man.
My thanks to all sisters, as I call them, may I have many scrubbings.
The new year is getting worn already so I better thank you all for your well wishing hoping that you do as fine this year as I am doing (except for the hearing).
Seventy-four years ago I met a twelve-year old Jewish girl, who was illegally adopted by one of our neighbors, since her parents feared to be deported to a work camp in Germany or worse by the Nazi's.
To save their children they contacted the dutch underground whom secretly took them from Amsterdam to the country site of Fryslân, where one of the girls found a safe home at one of our neighbors, her sister was adopted by a family in another village.
Ellie was my girlfriend and ours was not a relationship of the smooching kind, though we were familiar with that. She was now raised like we were, in the gereformeerd tradition attending school and church with us, but after some time she questioned certain things and was wondering wondering to which faith she really ought to belong - gereformeerd or Jewish?
Fundamental questions, even at her age about which we talked often at length, especially when rumors of extermination camps were heard. We feared the fate of her parents, and when at the end of the war the ugly truth became apparent that indeed her parents and all her relatives had perished in the gas chambers in Poland, and only her sister and herself had escaped that terrible death, she went through a time of deep grief. Ellie was an orphan now.
She was thorn between two good religions she respected and was given opposing advice as to which religion to choose, pressure mounting on her from both sides, troubling her more and more.
I remember suggesting for her to emigrate to Israel to find out more about her people and see if she would feel a sense of belonging among them, but she hesitated and in the end married instead and became mother to four lovely daughters. And after the fourth baby her husband died.
We had formed a club of four boys and four girls to hang out when we were about fifteen years old. If Ellie is still alive, she and I are the only two left of that club.
The last time I saw her was in the year 2000, when I got permission (ha ha) from my wife to spend two hours with Ellie, while Anne went shopping. It was the day before last we were in the Netherlands of our nine weeks holidays.
While we were sitting together on her chesterfield we sang the ballad of the sinking of the Titanic which we had sung as young children more than fifty years ago.
I asked what had become of her, was she Jewish or gereformeerd. She said “I'm nothing.” That did hurt me.
I got my first real honeste goodness kiss from a girl who liked looking at the moon while smooching. The kiss was a doozer, streaking like a shooting star from her lips via my sciatic nerve (it had to go via something) right into my toes, where it lingered, tingling like crazy, while I had my arms tight around her trying to prevent her from falling into the ditch behind her.
She must be 86 now but I bet, just as feisty as when she was fifteen.
In the year 2000 she inspired me to write, presented me with a large Frisian – English dictionary together with some unique autographed books.
She and Anne became good friends.
I am sure she is still looking at the moon and - 'if you're still around - thanks for the moments.'
Of one of the teachers I had at trade-school has still my deep respect and gratitude though Mr. Hoekstra nearly fired me from school because I was disruptive.
He was not a churchman but definitely a just man, he would not embarrass me either about my faith. One of his lectures was about exotic woods, which he found as a wall-covering in the foyer of the local cinema.
He knew full well that a cinema was forbidden and unholy ground for a gereformeerd boy.
Not wanting to let on that he had noticed that wall while he was going there to see a movie we looked straight at each-other when he lied and said
“I had to be in the film-theater for business...” instead of 'while I went to see a movie ...'
Mr Hoekstra was firm and fair, he was a compass in my life, still is that to this day.
Her last name sounded familiar, like that of a young man with the same name who became entangled in the snares of love with a friend of my children. The ensnarement did last long enough for our family to like the young man but the entanglement did not, however his name lingered, and from somewhere in Fryslân this beautiful lady with the same name parachuted right into our life after I posted a photo of my grandparents on Facebook. She identified my grandparents as her great-grandparents, 'and what am I to you then' which took some earnest figuring out.
Well, a great-looking woman is definitely something to me and my brothers alike, as well as to the female portion of the family, albeit in a more sisterly fashion. A pandemonium of sorts broke out, cousins from all over the world wanted to know 'what they were to each other.'
My omke Bernardus Smid laid the groundwork of the documented history of the Smid clan as well as that of the Slofstra's, (my beppe Aukje's clan) by researching archives of many municipalities and churches for more than two years, sharing his findings on paper, expanded later by his sons.
Esther Eijzenga (for it was she) with help of her equal enthusiastic family-loving aunt Rennie Bloemsma, did more for the Smid clan by awakening that history, and bringing cousins together, than anyone.
Therefore in my book she is numero uno or, if you want in 't Frysk, nȗmer ien. (#1)
Of the many things I do not fathom since I am not that bright, none stands out as clearly as this one – I do not comprehend why it is that decent people, following bible principles, particularly the one of doing good to others, gets a hellish pain to endure where a destroyer like a drug-peddler to young children does not.
Esther has only shortly returned from the Groninger hospital after suffering unbearable pain of a hernia pushing against her sciatic nerve, for weeks on end, a pain worse than birthing.
She has recently been operated and is recovering at home.
I still feel confused and angry that she had to get through that ordeal, knowing that anyone was helpless to help in her suffering.
I sincerely hope that my wish is as good as a prayer that she not has to go through an ordeal like that ever again, and Esther thank you for dropping in into our lives. Love you.
When almost five years ago I rented unit 217 of the Pavilion I met several nice staff members of whom some were extra special. Pearl definitely belongs in the last category.
I forgot the occasion, but promised her a story I had written before, about under what circumstances I had come to Menno Place. I kept my promise handing her a copy of it and when a few days later I met Pearl she uttered one word only - “Wow”
That really surprised me as I had thought that she would correct my grammatical mistakes, but discovered that she was impressed by my writing.
That was the first wow I had ever heard about my work and from that moment she could do wrong no more by me and was my friend, realizing of course that the wow was for what I wrote, and not for my good looks.
Many people have been a help to me, I often found it where I didn't look for it, but Pearl was always there with advice and a listening ear, and whether I needed it or not, a kick at the pants. I feel safe to discuss everything that comes to mind with her like one would with an old friend, even though she is as young as my daughter is.
This chronicle is longer than it was meant to be, but as Shawn, an other good 'old' friend once wrote '...we are blessed,' we are living with so many good-willing, and friendly acquaintances, friends and family-members, filling easily many more pages.
I thank God for sharing them all with us.
As my brother John many times wrote 'God is good.'