After the Fire

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What happened after the fire.

One of the houses we built in our sub-division was for a banker who was recently transferred to another town and when he put his house up for sale, I bought it from back from him.

Debbi, Len and I moved into it. It did have a sauna, as well, but of course no furniture. We had no furniture, no clothes, no food, no beds, we had nothing whatever any normal household has. How we got all the stuff we lacked I do not know anymore. All I know that Deb and I bought pots with flower plants, lots of them, so at least we had something to look at.

Against the advice of the pastor to call Anne, who was in the Netherlands with my two other daughters visiting both of our families I did not call to tell her that our house had burned down because I did not want to spoil her holidays. We now had a place to stay until the time we were able to rebuild another house on top of the old foundation, but how we purchased beds and furniture I forgot. Our architect however, was working on a design of another house to be put on top of the old foundation.

Of course some of these plans were not foolproof –

Because the news of our house-burning was widely published in the newspapers she would not be able to keep quiet about it, therefore I decided to tell Anne. Whinny, a friend of daughter Janice got it in her mind to go to Europe and start by meeting Janice in the Netherlands. That was all fine if only she wasn't such a tattler, then I called Anne in Holland.

Anne answered.
“So, what's new in Canada?”
“Well, we had a bit of trouble here.”
“Did the house burn down.” ?? Her answer shocked me but was not entirely a surprise as Anne has dumbfounded me before that way as if she had a special awareness.
“Yes, it did.”
“Debbi?” her voice wavered. Why not Len, I thought but Anne saw Len, like her father, as survivors. She told me once what her thoughts were about Len when we spoke of his disadvantages, being aware of his difficulties of learning because he was found dyslectic.

“Believe me,” she said, “if we ever should get a war, or a famine in this country, Len would see to it that we would have food. In that he is like you.” That was quite a compliment, but I did my best during the hungry thirties and even long afterwards things for my parents which I never saw done by my friends or siblings. Anne loved Len because he was a doer like her father and his forebears, who where Len's forebears as well of course.

“We are all OK.” I didn't know what else to say.
”I had a feeling about this, we had it too good. I will be coming home right away.”
“Don't hurry, I only told you because Whinny is coming to see Janice and she knows.”
“Is everything gone?”
“Everything.” I couldn't believe that we talked so calmly about our destroyed house for goodness sake!!

“You know Lex, we have said so many times that we don't care of earthly goods, I think that this may be a test.” We were quiet again and I thought 'here we go again paying good money to the telephone company for not talking.'

When Anne started again, I heard by her trembling voice that she was getting emotional. “There is one thing that I will miss.”
“What is that.”
“Opoe's potje.”

On one of her trips to the Netherlands Anne got an old Cologne (Keulen) pot which her grandmother used for brown sugar. As a toddler Anne got a tea spoon, which was less than half the size of a Canadian one, of brown sugar from grandma when she visited her.

“I guess, I will miss my mother's antique Delft blue plate,” I said. Anne did not answer, I knew that the old sugar pot meant much to her as it reminded her of her infant years and also of her opoe, who adored her and she her grandmother. I missed my mother's plate too, but not nearly as much as Anne missed the old earthen sugar pot she called 'Opoe's potje'.

I don't know if Anne was thinking about anything else but I know for sure that even if she didn't think of anything else, the finest house we ever had, with the most unique furnishings we would ever possess again, was lost and would never be replaced. Our old piano with the finest sound, made in 1898, was eventually replaced by a Japanese combination organ-piano, but in value and sound did not nearly equal the destroyed one.

Anne had a series of prints on one wall of the old village where we lived, produced by a local artist, from who Anne received her first drawing lessons. A knitting machine we purchased during a holiday in Europe, including a wall of wool, as Anne was going into business making knitted products, but instead became pregnant with our only son Len, who was a lot of work.

A corner TV, first of its kind. A music player, all first class. Am I beginning to brag? I will stop then, but not before saying that we were on top of the world financially, health-wise, and we lived most luxuriously in that great house with so many wonderful new idea's imbued.

Janice and Erwin, happy grandparents

Janice and Erwin, happy grandparents