Thursday, 17 November 2011

J. van E.

Last night, I went to bed very early, with the result that I woke, fully rested, at 3 am.  I'd had less than six hours of sleep, but that felt like a very good night under recent circumstances.  Anyway, I had my phone under my pillow, so had plenty to do until it was a reasonable hour to get up.  And, in browsing through Facebook, I found that my friend's grandad had died, at the age of 95.

I've written to her, her mother and her uncle (very unsure about the etiquette of doing that via FB, but I have no other addresses, so I reckon it's better than nothing) - there was a serious breakdown of trust between father and daughter which was never resolved, so that wasn't the easiest note to write - but I just wanted to say a few words here.

Johann was a member of the Dutch Resistance during the war  So was his friend, the father of our beloved au pairs, back in the early 1960s, Cobie and Joepie, and their brother Huib.  Conditions were awful in Holland in the 1940s, at near starvation levels.  Night-time foraging for a few onions or turnips - even a tulip bulb to eat - was as vital as Resistance duties.  In either event, being caught would have meant being shot.  Johann lived with that.  He shared memories of his experiences with my parents, but not with me, I was too young.  He was, later, a brilliant teacher and mentor of young people.  His children are among my oldest friends.

Whatever were the issues between him and Charlotte (she knows this website, though I'm not sure if she ever reads it - sorry, my dear, if you visit here and I say anything you're not happy about - do tell me if so), I feel that the world is diminished by his death.  He was a fine and brave man, and my parents thought highly of him, and I was very fond of him too.  Condolences to his family and friends.

6 comments:

john.g. said...

Sounds like a very brave man!

Z said...

He really was, we can't imagine what it was like there at that time.

63mago said...

It was tough. The "Reichskommissar" Seyß-Inquart held a high SS-rank and was a notorious brute. Hanged in Nuernberg 1946.

Z said...

May times like that never return to Europe, Mago, whatever else happens. Thank you.

Roses said...

Those were dark, dark times and they leave scars that are impossible to articulate.

I'm sorry their relationship was difficult. In many ways, it makes his passing all the more sad really.

Z said...

They had talked, more recently, and there was a degree of reconciliation. Charlotte is the friend who came and stayed with us for a few days earlier this year.