In a few hours I'll be off to visit a lady who has been special for me in the almost 30 years of my having lived in the Netherlands. She, her husband and their family of six children were almost next-door neighbours to my mothers family from about before the war years until 1956, when my mother emigrated to Australia. She was almost like a second mother to my own mother, offering practical support and encouragement in the darkest of times after my grandfather died in 1944. My grandmother and my mother have always maintained contact with her in the intervening years, and even though my grandmother passed away years ago, my mother still maintained a sense of extended family with her which she (an only child) has treasured all her life.
When I came to the Netherlands in 1979, she and her husband didn't hesitate to offer me a place in their lives and in the strange country I'd come to. It was a strange and wonderful time, I was floundering in a culture I didn't have a clue about but the sense of security and being home I was offered has left an enormous debt of gratitude. I learned to see people at their best at that time, I learned to understand that the brave new world I'd landed in was totally different on the outside to the one I'd encounter in the living room. It was a formative and defining period for me, painful at moments when I was growing up fast.
Many years have passed, time has brought much but also taken away in equal measure. The vibrance of middle age, the composure and serenity of old age have been replaced by disability and confusion, almost as if one is to be punished for surpassing the three score and ten years allotted to them. Hardly a dignified way of ending a life filled with compassion, dignity and concern for all who needed assistence. It doesn't seem fair, and perhaps it isn't, but that's all we have to work with I guess.
I wonder what today's going to bring with it. I'm curious, are you? Keep well...