I still remember my best childhood gift. A sleeping doll with a soft green dress!
She was so beautiful I could not keep my eyes from her. When I held her in my arms, like a baby, she would close her eyes. Then when I kept her upright, she would look at me with bright blue glassy doll’s eyes. She also had long curly golden nylon hair.
In 1952 my family moved to South Africa from the Netherlands. It was at the beginning of February when the journey started. My 6th birthday was going to be on the ship!
Next door to our home lived two sisters who, to me as a nearly six-year-old, looked very old. They were friends of my parents. A day before our departure they came over and told me that they had a present for me because they won’t see me on my birthday later in February. I opened my present, and guess what? In the box, all dressed up was this most beautiful doll. Her body was soft, and her head, hands and parts of her legs were made from porcelain. Her face was beautifully painted and then those glassy blue eyes! I will never forget her eyes. She even had on some white shoes and socks.
I loved this doll so much. I never liked to give it to my sisters to play with. A year or two later one of my sisters played with it outside. She forgot to bring it in and the early morning dew ruined my lovely doll’s face. She was never the beauty again.
Like Jesus, every human being has enough memories in his past to occupy his time and thoughts continually. It is not the remembrance of these incidents but the reliving of them that creates havoc in our souls. Mother Angelica
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/remembrance.html
Unbelievable! After 25 years, I am standing here, looking at the ruins of the rehabilitation centre.
The entrance is dilapidated. Seized with emotion, tears of affection roll down my cheeks. Deep within me, memories churn and tangle around. My thoughts are a vortex of anxiety, sadness, despair, and yet at the end victory.
January 2, 19 … Soft hands helped me up. The hands put me into the waiting vehicle. I felt tired, so tired and nauseous. I did not want to live. A soft voice kept on calming me down. The voice, soft and reassuring, kept on talking to me.
It’s a long ride. Each turn made me feel as if I were tumbling over the edge. Deep into the mountains and high on a hill the vehicle came to a sudden halt. The door opened. I fell out like a bag of potatoes from the vehicle. Again the soft hands and voice. People lead me into the building. It smelled of clean floors. The smell of freshly cooked food sickened me. When did I last have a decent meal? I couldn’t remember. I had to get my bottle. What did I do with it? I got mad with anger. I trembled from head to toe. Strong hands took a firm hold on both my shaky arms. They took me through corridors and around corners. Suddenly I heard a door opening. In front of me a bed, a pillow and blanket. The hands pushed me down onto the bed. They left. I could not stop shaking. Everything faded away. I flopped, onto the bed.
Many days later I woke up. My head was still aching, but the shaking was gone. They transferred me to a dorm with eight other people. The room was airy and clean. My roommates showed me systematically where everything was.
I can remember that there were three wings each with passages and small single rooms and at the end of each a dorm with eight beds. The passages were divided into two wings, with a kitchenette and bathroom on both sides of the passage in the middle.The kitchenette had a kettle, some cups and a small fridge. We could make our coffee or tea which the hospital provided.
There were small enclosures between the wings of the building. Inmates could sit outside and breathe fresh air. Everything was secured down. There was no opportunity for any escape.
As each person improved, they each gradually got more freedom.
A fully furnished recreation room provided hours of fun for the patients. Every person had some chores to do. Cooking, cleaning, gardening later. In the end, persons were led to live a better life again. After two years of rehabilitation, I could go back into the community, rehabilitated and well. Clean of alcohol and drugs, and here I stand again, looking at the ruins of the hospital which I am going to enter in a moment from now. It hurts to look back at that time, but I am grateful for the soft voice and hands that brought me here that day twenty-five years ago.
I have taken all the photos. The hospital was locked and I had to take the photos through the windows.
Part two will be about entering the hospital and telling what could be seen, felt and remembered.
May 5, 2017. It’s write Easy. Every Friday I join a writing group and write anecdotes from my past. We usually get six words for the week. We pick one word or more and write about it. My word was motorcycle.
Some people, when they are young, love to show off by having a better motorcycle than their best friends.
My son, while at school was and still is a big motorcycle fan.
While in school he bought himself a field motorbike with his money selling newspapers. It took him two years to put the money together. It was a second-hand motorcycle, and most of the time he was busy trying to fix it. As soon as it was roadworthy again, he would go off with lots of noise and speed up and down the dirt track near our house.
He studied at the Technikon in Pretoria. After a year of using a yellow Austin Mini which I gave him as his first vehicle, he bought himself a black streamlined motorcycle. He enjoyed to ride it. He even would drive the hundred and fifty kilometres home on the weekend to visit me.
Some years later he told me that he nearly killed himself driving down a steep hill. He drove downhill and lost control, ventured on the pavement, and almost bumped full on into a signboard pole which stopped him. He showed me photos of the brake marks on the road and sidewalk. Lucky for him that he missed it by a few millimetres.
One of the first things my son did when he arrived in New Zealand he bought himself a motorcycle. He even bought a second which he tried to modernise his own way. He loved fiddling with the engines. Nowadays he is more into designing and making electronic boards which bring in some money to help pay the bills now that he has expanded his family.
I described my mother and my father for my writing group in the local Library.
Both descriptions are of my parents in the hospital before they passed away.
My Father passed in 1994 and my mother in 2006.
Mum in hospital
Frail and bony hands were on top of the blanket. She taught us that you never sleep with your hands under the covers. Her handkerchief clenched in one hand. She regularly swept or just held it under her nose. Pale blue eyes looked at me in recognition. Eyes kept wandering up to the shelf where a toy husky looked down at her. “He winked at me. His tongue is hanging out, he smiled at me “came the shaky words. Her hair was sparse and bland. She looked so fragile. She never complained about pain and yet one could see it in her eyes. Her body was swollen twice as big as normal, from all the water caused by heart and also kidneys failure. The physiotherapist came, Mom wanted to show how strong she was. We had to support her; she could hardly sit up. She still asked:” Is it good enough?” She was brave until the end, not complaining about all the pain.
Dad in hospital
He sat in the chair next to the bed.Old and tired of the life. His hands clenched around the armrests of the chair. Those strong hands, which worked hard throughout his life, looked old and wrinkled. The oxygen pipe in his nose helped his shallow and irregular breathing. He was still fighting against the world and its many injustices. He could not make peace with circumstances. Surviving World War II in the Netherlands nearly totally had broken him. He even accused my mum of not loving him at the end! She was the one supporting him his whole life. He just did not trust or believe anyone. He kept on fighting against all will till the end.
I had been looking forward to the Conference and to visit Nelson in the South Island of NZ since last year. The week before I had to go, I became ill with bronchitis. I still wasn’t well on the Friday of our departure. It was cloudy and the weather report expected rain during the weekend.
on our way
I had a wonderful weekend. My good friend and I stayed in a motel about ten minutes walk from the Conference centre. We walked the Friday evening to register and a get -together to meet other members.
From the motel doorstep.
I did not attend the Saturday morning session because it was raining and I did not want to get wet.
The conference goers were taken into Nelson city by double decker bus. Nelson is known for its Saturday market.
My friend and I had a good lunch before the afternoon session.
At the cafe
My dear friend
The afternoon session was interesting.
We had a formal dinner Saturday evening.
Sunday was time for proposed remits and round off of Conference.
Sad to say that our return home did not go as we had planned. We missed our flight! Lucky for us we got two seats on a charter flight.
I always wanting to please others. I can’t stand up for myself and say what I think because I don’t want to hurt others. This is how it still is today I feel I am always coming last.
I can’t remember much of growing up, only small events come up and then go again.
The ” It’s write easy” sessions every Friday helps me to get closure in my life.
I always had someone in my life that dominated me.
First, it was my father keeping me away from enjoying my life as a scholar. The first years while we were living in Pretoria and then in Erasmia, a tiny “dorpie” (village or small town) at first was quite good. I had a few best friends at school. They even came to my home to play, and I could go on a Friday afternoon and play at their places. The school had only four teachers, and we all played and learned as if we were a big happy family. My school work was of high standard and I also enjoyed the after school activities like “korfball” * and athletics. In my last year in primary education, I was the best girl athlete in school.
Then came the bad years. We moved to a “plot”**, away from anything. When I look back on those years, we lived a life of going nowhere. I did not have any friends during my High school years. There was no opportunity to make friends. I could not take part in any after school events because my father did not want to pick me up afterwards. (I understand it was difficult for him, it was out of his way to pick me up) My school work did not go well. I can’t remember if there was time for homework at all.
We did not have electricity at home. We still used candles. I had to get up early, help my mother to milk the goats and then off to school in the school bus that took about an hour to get to school. Coming back by bus in the afternoons, I had to look after the goats while they were grazing in the fields.
I got more and more lonely. Nobody to talk to, nothing. At the end I passed high school every year, I don’t know how but I did. Those years were very hard years.
I appreciate it that my parents looked after me that well. I could actually never expand my way or use my ideas. I was always criticised no matter what I said or did.