The Canadian years, 71, the foreigner

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Sunday 15 February 09:43


The foreigner

‘Who has allowed a kraut in my home?’ My father looked stunned and he spoke staccato, cool and resolute, and I knew what that meant. He could explode at any moment.’ Hi Big Dan’, Betsy began, but he pushed her roughly away and stepped forward. He rolled his shoulders a bit. ‘I see no krauts,’ said my sister, ‘this is Hans and he comes from Germany’. ‘A blind man can see that,’ my father said. Hans looked at my dad in a funny way. ‘I,’ he spoke slowly, ‘am a Canadian,’ you as  well, I suppose’, and he held out his hand. His English sentence construction was a bit unfortunate but it was clear to me what he wanted to convey. ‘That was funny because we were still Dutch. My father took a step forward and I saw a change come over his face. Hans did not know it but he was in great danger. My sister got into the line of fire and watched my father. ‘That is not going to be the father of my grandchildren,’ my father said, ‘I do not permit that.’’ Do not touch him,’ she told my father and she said to Hans, ‘we do not shake a lot of hands here, that will come later.’ Aside,’ my father ordered her,’ he’ll disappear as he came.’

‘No,’ said my sister, who spoke several secret languages and knew secrets. ‘He is an honorable man, more honorable than men of my secrets’. She had told him to take heed, boy she was a strong woman. This could end badly, I guessed, they would both leave the house and the whole evening would be ruined and my father would forbid us to ever metion her name again. My mother pulled herself half up. ‘Dad don’t you see that Steven is back, isn’t that nice?’ My father hesitated for a second, and at that moment the door opened and my brother stepped in, followed by a skinny girl. He over saw the situation in a split second, and stepped forward. That will be Karen,’ I thought. My brother walked to Hans who still kept his hand stretched out and shook it. ‘You must be Hans, welcome, what fun that we will all eat together.’ ‘Hi ya all,’ the  skinny girl at his side, ‘we are not too late I hope, it smells delicious.’


‘No’, said my sister, ‘you're right on time.’ Folk if I may,’ my brother asked our attention,’ for those who do not know her,’ my brother said, ‘this is my girlfriend.’ ‘Oh,’ said Aunt Jet and stepped forward and gave her a kiss. ‘A kraut,’ asked Hans? ‘No, another Canadian like you,’ laughed my sister. ‘Are there more to come,’ my father asked with a strange voice. ‘No more,’ I have not invited anyone else,’ said my sister. She had taken care of decorum.’ I have no home,’ he muttered to himself, ‘everything is going to pieces,’ when he regained his balance, he played his role perfectly, he again took control of the situation and of everyone. ‘Ha’, he said, ‘all of you welcome to my house, one big happy family, we are going to enjoy our dinner. My sister let out a sigh of relief and I heard her say to Hans, ‘avoid him a little.’

The venison dish that my sister had prepared was impressively tasty, my father only spoke with Uncle Hank. When the wine was poured, Hans took water because he did not drink. He took the glass and got up and looked around proudly. ‘This is a fine day’, he said,’ first a toast’ and he said, ‘a toast to the host’ and Karen nodded approvingly, ‘well spoken,’ she said. My father as a host, was apparently not so happy to be toasted to. His face revealed his true feelings, that was for those who could read it clearly. ‘I have not been home long’, Hans continued, ‘and so I think today is an exceptional fine day. Food brings people together,’ and Hans came to the point. ‘I will you, how do you say that again,’ Hans said, and he looked at my brother and me ..’ I am your brother eh’, Hans, said as he looked around. ‘Brother in law’, my sis helped him.’We are going to be good brothers, I promise.’


His English was not great for a Canadian but we understood the good intentions. My mother looked in a daze to Hans and said I know you. ‘Are you not my brother Volkert, no, he was different’ and suddenly she said again,’ no you're Steven I see it now’. Now I really got goosebumps and was wondering if in the state of the morphine intoxication, she had had weighed him and had meant in her confused state that Hans and Steven were both good people, or something of that nature. Hans smiled gently at her and said,’ yes,mutter wir kennen einander.’ My father froze. ‘Holy cow, he had fallen back into German.’ My sister took control, ‘go and sit down Hans,’ she said, it seems better to me, you have spoken well, Hans and I will soon have an announcement,’ she said, ‘but that will come after dessert and coffee.’ My father looked hard at Hans and raised his glass.’ A toast to our foreign guests.’ Karen asked a little too loudly of my brother, "foreign"? My father looked at her with an engaging smile, ‘I'm not Canadian yet.’ He had made the separation in a simple manner and was again skipper on deck.

San Daniel 2015

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