Door AnnaElize gepubliceerd op Wednesday 17 August 22:33

So being the victim of cruelty breeds  criminals and terrorists? Need makes people behave like monsters?

Experience proves otherwise.

During the second world war, my maternal grandmother was in a Japanese concentration camp in Indonesia with two of her four children, my mother’s younger sister and brother.  My mother told me how she was the only one who was trusted by the other captives of that concentration camp with distributing the food, which she did with a letter balance, because that is how tiny the quantities were. No grabbing, clawing or murdering for food, but utmost dignity to the very end.

My aunt described  how after being tortured by being hung by the hair, after which their hair was cut off, so they fell in a pit, the women  who still had their hair would cut off locks  which they gave to the tortured women to let it peak from under their scarves, so that it could seem as though they still had full heads of hair and look attractive. I heard her talk about this on TV. The concentration camp was not a subject that was ever talked about at family gatherings.

Dignity, pride, gentleness, nobility, poise, solidarity, elegance, kindness were my grandmother’s  characteristics in times of abundance as well as in times of need which she kept  until her very last breath and beyond.
She was born August18th 1898. She would have been 118 years old now.

Normally she gave six hundred guilders to her grandchildren on their sixteenth birthday, but she gave it to me on my tenth, because she expected not to be around anymore when I was sixteen, and sure enough, she died when I was fifteen.

I could not bear the thought of her dying, and she told me she would live in my heart as long as I remembered her.She always called me "mijn hartje", which is Dutxh for "my little heart

She was excellent at embroidery and most of her grandchildren have one or more of her works of art.

For me , she made three pieces, which had prophetic meaning, as did all her gifts.

The first,  chosen by my mother for her to make for my birth, is of ten figures under five palm trees. (Appropriate for Aruba, where I was born and where we lived until I was eight.)   In the middle, five are dancing, playing and singing around a pot on a fire, on the left two are sitting preparing food, and on the right three are playing in the water. One of them, a girl, takes a star out of the water. I identify with her, since a star plays a key part in my book,  intelligent devotion, and figuring it out felt like finding a long lost treasure. You can find it here  Also the times at the baby beach in Aruba with my mother and youngest  brother when I was three, and now at the river  with my son and husband are among  the happiest moments for me.


The second, is of two girls with four cats and a bird. The bigger girl is playing with a doll, the smaller one examining a plant. My grandmother had a sister who was ten years younger than her, and like my father had  I have a sister who is ten years older  than I am.   My elder sister liked to play with Barbie’s when she was little, and I was more interested in nature, so the picture was appropriate, although at that time I was not really into cats.


She seemed to have wanted to correct that with her third piece, a couple with thirteen birds. It was what she had been working on until her death. It was given to me in my grandmother’s  name by my aunt after my grandmother had died.


The couple was supposed to be me with my future husband. My grandmother said I was a  pretty girl, and I should not marry the first man to come in my life. She was absolutely right about that, since the first one was a tyrant, and I married my second steady boyfriend. We have a thirteen year age difference, the same number as the birds in the picture. Like the couple on her embroidery, my husband and I have the same length. A space was left underneath, and she wanted me to embroider our names there, or so my aunt told me. I still need to do this.Now we have birds and a cat, so in this case her foresight was impeccable again, as always.

She also gave me a book about herbs for my seventh birthday, and herbs play an important role in the e4dc, my diet and care book, which can be found here

She did not condemn my love for comic books when I was little, but instead used it to introduce me to literature and the Bible when I was ten, by subscribing me to a comicbook series called  toppers in strp , which introduced me to all the classics like, Moby Dick and Arond the World in eighty days, and De Bijbel in beeld, which introduced me to the Bible. Well, maybe she was a little disappointed that I did not say I liked her reading Charles Dickens’s Christmas Carol at  to me much better than the film. Only now I realize that after my grandfather’s death when I was nine,  she made bringing me culture and refinement one of her projects and did that so subtly, that  I only now realize how amazingly clever she handled it. “Almost is not even half,” was a saying of hers, and she lived by it. What she did, she did perfectly and completely.

Like the Delft blue plates she handed out to each child and grand child at my grandparent’s golden anniversary, where I was allowed to be flower girl. This was the version we, the grandchildren received,


The children received one with the coat of arms of her and my grandfather’s families.

In the coat of arms of her family, there is a broken lily, which, I was told, was a symbol of her family being illegal offspring of the Bourbons, the French royal family.
 Her ancestors as well as  those of my paternal grandmother had also been Huguenots and had left France. during the persecutions.

Interestingly, my husband also stems from Huguenots from both sides of the family, and we now live in an area of France where many Huguenots use to live, and we feel very much at home here.

In dreams I see my grandmother living in a house by the sea, with my grandfather, and in her dreams my mother told me she saw her in a golden dress, saying she had no idea where she was, but that it was wonderful there,

My grandmother was living proof that kindness and goodness are in our core , and don’t disappear when circumstances are tough, but keep shining through everything at all times, rough or calm, prosperous or poor, healthy or sick, always. Seeds of so many of my interests can be traced back to her, and so she does live on in me , just as she promised she would.


My beautiful grandmother as an eleven year old  (right) with her baby sister and brother.


My grandparents’wedding in Indonesia,  September 6th 1921..


My grandmother on the left, 1929


My grandparents on holiday with us in Austria July 1970.

My grandmother in the middle and me on the right on holiday in Austria, july 1970, on the left is my youngest brother.


Me as a flower girl at my grandparents’ golden wedding anniversary September 6 1971


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