Thursday, October 1, 2020

Portrait of my mom

 Here's a video with my mom I wanted to share with you.

Or click this link to watch
(English and Dutch subtitles available)

This was part of a TV-show called Van de Kaart (full episode here, no subtitles) she used to watchTV-show herself. It's made by a local station that has a group traverse from A to B in as much a straight line as possible, having to climb walls and go through houses. In this particular episode, shot on October 11, 2017 (one day before her birthday and right in between the passing of my dad (2015) and my mom (2019), they happened to meet my mom. As they pass through the house she tells her about herself and my dad, and she invites them to join her for tea. I think this is a beautiful portrait of her, showing her exactly the way she was.

My mom in January 2019 in Barcelona
My mom in January 2019 in Barcelona

We are organizing a remembrance walk for my mom Sunday, Oct 4, 2020, see the invite below. For those too far away who would like to 'join': do your own walk in remembrance of my mom wherever you are. She would love that 😊

A Walk in Memory of Wads

It has been almost a year since Wads left us. We would like to remember her by organizing a walk together on Sunday 4 October.  

When11:00. We will start walking at 11:10, so please be on time.  
WhereIn front of Koffietent John & June's at Prinsevinkenpark There is free parking close by. Bus 22 and trams 1 and 9 are close by as well.
WhatAn easy walk under an hour visiting a few places including Scheveningse Bosjes, Celebesstraat, Archipelbuurt, ending at the cemetery. We will keep a friendly 1,5m distance and please feel free to wear face masks as you prefer. 
After the walk, for those who want to join: Dimsum at 13.00 at China Town Dimsum & Grill Wagenstraat 100 ( Due to COVID, please make your own reservation directly with the restaurant, but we will try to arrange so we sit in the general area.  
Your response
  1. Let us know if you are joining, but No RSVP required
  2. Also, please share this with others who may be interested. 
  3. Again, if you join us for dimsum, please make your own reservation with the restaurant.
A short update. With lots of help from friends we have been successful in clearing out Celebesstraat 42. Many friends also took tokens from the house to remember it and my parents by. As much as we love the house, it was not our wish to live there, so in the end we decided to sell it. This was by no means an easy decision, but it feels right. One good thing came out of it: the new owners are a wonderful family with two young daughters who have plans in rejuvenating and updating the house before living there themselves. Much like my parents in 1976, they are moving from Amsterdam to The Hague . 

We hope to see you on Sunday 4 October.


Wandeling ter nagedachtenis aan Wads 

Het is bijna een jaar geleden dat Wads is komen te overlijden. Om dit te herdenken organiseren we een wandeling op zondag 4 oktober.

Wanneer11:00. We beginnen met lopen om 11:10, wees ajb op tijd.
WaarVoor Koffietent John & June's aan het Prinsevinkenpark Er kan gratis geparkeerd worden. Bus 22, tram 1 en tram 9 stoppen ook in de buurt.
Wat: een gemakkelijke wandeling van uiterlijk een uur, denk hierbij aan de Scheveningse Bosjes, Celebesstraat, Archipelbuurt en we eindigen op de Begraafplaats Kerkhoflaan. Tijdens de wandeling houden we natuurlijk de anderhalve meter in acht. Uiteraard mag je een masker dragen als je dit wenst.
Na de wandeling, voor zij die mee willen: dimsum om 13:00 bij China Town Dimsum & Grill Restaurant, Wagenstraat 100 ( Vanwege de maatregelen ivm COVID vragen we ieder huishouden om zelf een tafel te reserveren. We zullen proberen bij elkaar in de buurt te zitten.

Wat moet je doen
  1. fijn als je laat weten als je komt en met hoeveel, maar het hoeft niet. 
  2. deel deze uitnodiging met andere mensen die hier graag bij zouden willen zijn. ZEGT HET VOORT
  3. Nogmaals, als je mee wilt dimsummen, maak dan zelf je reservering bij het restaurant.
Een korte update. Met verschrikkelijk veel hulp van vrienden is het ons gelukt Celebesstraat 42 leeg te halen. Velen hebben ook een aandenken aan mijn ouders meegenomen. We houden ontzettend van het huis, maar het was niet onze wens om er te gaan wonen, en hebben we uiteindelijk besloten het huis te verkopen. Dit was geen gemakkelijk besluit, maar toch voelt het goed. De nieuwe familie die er gaat wonen heeft 2 jonge dochters, ze hebben plannen om het huis te verbouwen om het weer een frisse look te geven. Net als wij destijds verhuist deze familie van Amsterdam naar Den Haag.

We hopen jullie op zondag 4 oktober te zien!

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The staircase

It's almost a year since my mother-in-law passed away.  Q and I have been fortunate to go through a rigorous process of grieving and loving during this period with tremendous support from many of you. It's not easy, but I'd like to think that we are doing our best embracing it. 

This afternoon we gathered with a handful close neighbors and friends, said goodbye to the house where Wads and Bart have spent more than 40 years. After everyone else left, I was able to connect with the house, sitting on the worn-out floor, walking through the empty rooms, looking out the tainted windows... The poem below is a reflection of the connection. 

This is for you - those who have loved Wads, and those who have loved. 


The Staircase 

I barely fit 

On the midnight blue staircase step 

Where she used to sit

Taking her sigsig break

After our dinner together

While I shuffled around in her kitchen

The evening quietly cleaned up.

The scent of thin cigarette propagated

Down the hallway's shadows

Mesmerizing my senses

What is going through her mind

When she inhales


Inhales again.

I used to wonder.

I am still wondering.

Maybe some questions are best 

left unanswered.

They remain the beautifully 

unfinished void

Connecting us

Through time and space

Through life and beyond.

I inhale, 


Inhale again. 

Following the faint scent of sweet smoke 

I find her again

Sitting on the midnight blue staircase step 

Next to me

Leaving in my hands

A gentle squeeze. 

View into Wads' garden

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Love Language

The newly-weds
Every couple has their love language. Some are easy to see, to hear, to understand. Some are... not.  Such was the case of my parents-in-law.

If you walked into a typical day at Celebesstraat 42, you would have likely seen my parents-in-law in different rooms, busying about their own things. Their language appeared distanced, separated, cold and maybe even strange.

But underneath it all were two wonderful individuals who could have lived very contentedly by themselves, but chose to spend their lives together. In the end they became a loving couple who ultimately were not able to live without each other.

My mother-in-law loved my father-in-law in ways that break your heart. She respected him enormously. And he her. He in playing music that she would never understand but loved to listen. She in cooking dishes that he could never make, but could not have enough of. He in praising her volunteer work to people that had never met her. She in making fun of him to anyone that would want to listen.

They adored each other.

So was their dynamic. So was the magic of their love. It formed a formidable bond beyond life and death.

Their love was expressed in ways that can be barely detected by senses, but definitely could be felt by hearts. It was so old-fashioned, so classic, so playful, so Wads and Bart.

Till even death cannot do us apart...
Footnote: Special thanks to Kathryn Wellen for helping me bring the piece of writing to light and sharing with you all. We miss you, Wads and Bart.